Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Backs Perry

In his bid to become the Republican candidate for president in 2012, Texas Governor Rick Perry recently won the endorsement of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.

“I have been watching Governor Perry and Texas closely and know his border surge operations with state, local and federal law enforcement officials have helped him shut down the illegal trafficking of weapons, drugs and people,” Arpaio said in a prepared statement. “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.”

The endorsement may boost Perry’s efforts to present himself as a hard-liner on immigration reform, given that Arpaio is known for his tough stance on the issue. However, the association with Arpaio could also spark controversy, because the sheriff has undertaken enforcement actions, such as making detained immigrants live in tents, which Think Progress called “degrading and illegal.”

After announcing his support, Arpaio joined Perry in New Hampshire, where the governor gave a speech declaring he would swiftly deport every illegal immigrant caught in the United States if elected president.

“My policy will be to detain and deport every illegal alien who is apprehended in this country,” Perry said. “And we’ll do it with an expedited hearing process so that millions of illegal aliens are not released into the general population with some hearing date down the road.”

According to Think Progress, there are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and the cost to deport every one of them would run to more than $2.6 trillion.

Pointing to a Texas policy allowing certain undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition, Perry’s rivals for the GOP nomination have criticized him for being too soft on illegal immigration. Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, told the El Paso Times that even if Arpaio’s endorsement helps revive Perry’s primary campaign, it could hurt him among immigrant voters if he becomes the general election candidate.