Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Endorses Perry

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Endorses Perry

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - November 29, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry secured the endorsement of Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his tough and controversial stance on illegal immigration, Tuesday in New Hampshire.

"I'm endorsing Rick Perry because we need a tough-on-crime president who will champion and fund full-time border security operations from Brownsville to San Diego," Arpaio said in a statement released by the candidate's campaign. "Governor Perry has a superior border security record and plan to make our border and our nation safer.”

Arpaio appeared with Perry on Tuesday at a diner in Amherst, N.H. Voters in the Granite State weigh in on the Republican White House contenders in a little over a month. The sheriff, who backed Mitt Romney in 2008, said he settled on Perry after watching the Texas governor's efforts to "shut down the illegal trafficking of weapons, drugs, and people" across the Mexican border.

Perry had come under fire on the issue after he said during a debate earlier this year that anyone who disagreed with his policy granting in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants did not "have a heart." He later backed away from that characterization, calling it inappropriate.

"I am honored to have Sheriff Arpaio’s support for my presidential campaign and our shared goals of fighting border crime with more personnel, border fencing and surveillance," said Perry. "A secure border is vital to protecting America’s national security, public safety and jobs. As president, I will secure the border within a year, putting thousands more federal boots on the ground, strategic fencing and aerial resources to fight border crime and make our states and nation safer.”

While Arpaio may be able to help bolster Perry's conservative bone fides, he has been a divisive figure in the immigration debate and the target of many civil rights groups for his tough tactics. The Justice Department is currently investigating whether Arpaio properly cooperated with officials looking into whether his sheriff's office violated the rights of Hispanics.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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