Shortly after the Obama administration announced a huge change in U.S. immigration policy, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he will continue enforcing illegal immigration laws in his state.
The new policy states that young illegal immigrants will be eligible for "deferred action" instead of deportation if they meet a certain set of guidelines. The measure, which could affect roughly 800,000 illegal aliens, completely bypassed Congress and was signed by Obama himself.
"I think people from Mexico are now going to feel, 'Hey come on in and we'll get by with it.' But it won't happen in this county. They will be arrested," Arpaio told KNXV in Phoenix.
Further, Arpaio said that unless Obama's new policy is enacted into law, he and his department will not enforce it.
"Well, we're still going to enforce all those illegal immigration laws," he added. "If this is not a law, we will not enforce it."
Arpaio went on to say that the new policy is purely a political move by Obama during an election year.
"This seems to be politically motivated," Arpaio said. "I would rather see the president let Congress decide what to do on this issue and other illegal immigration problems."
Watch Arpaio's segment here:
In a separate interview with CNN Host Don Lemon, Arpaio reiterated many of his statements made earlier on KNXV.
"We are going to continue enforcing illegal immigration laws, including state laws," Arpaio said. "I am more concerned with the politics of this... I would like congress to look at this Dream Act issue next year and do something about it instead of talking all the time and letting the president come up with executive orders."
He was later asked by the host to clarify his comments on continuing to enforce immigration laws and whether that meant he would ignore the Obama administration's new policy, which Arpaio called "the first step towards amnesty."
"No, I'm not going to ignore it... I'm not going to violate the constitution or the laws," the sheriff replied, seemingly refusing to take a hard stance. "But I am just saying that Congress should look at this situation."
However, Arpaio did say the "one good thing" about Obama's new immigration policy is that it may generate interest on the topic from the American people and lawmakers.
Lemon later said that even some Republicans argue that conservatives need to reexamine their views on immigration because it hurts them politically. Arpaio responded, "Let 'em take a look at it... Don't worry about the politics, let's get something done."
Arpaio even went as far to say that if Congress were to pass legislation that removed all immigration laws, he would enforce the decisions of the people's representatives.
"If they're not there, I don't have to enforce them," he said about the laws.
His biggest problem with the new immigration policy is the fact that Congress wasn't consulted and was essentially passed by the equivalent of a presidential executive order.
Watch Arpaio's CNN interview here: