How Sheriff Joe Arpaio helps (and hurts) Rick Perry on illegal immigration
The endorsement of anti-illegal immigration crusader Joe Arpaio is a big boost to the conservative credentials of Rick Perry. But 'Sheriff Joe' is not without his critics, even among Republicans.
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For those not familiar with the Arizona lawman, Sheriff Arpaio has built up a reputation as perhaps the nation's the fiercest anti-illegal immigration crusader, rounding up thousands of undocumented workers in Maricopa County for deportation. And Texas Governor Perry? He has said he supports tuition breaks for illegal immigrants.
Could the endorsement of the Sheriff Arpaio do anything for Perry's flagging campaign?
In New Hampshire, at least, it's unclear how Arpaio can help him. Current state polls show Perry at just under 3 percent there – well behind not only Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but also Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman Jr., and Herman Cain. And immigration is hardly a hot-button topic for Granite State voters.
Beyond New England, the partnership could help Perry scramble back from statements that cast him as "soft" on illegal immigration in the minds of many Republican primary voters. But it doesn't come without baggage.
"The Obama administration has a 'catch-and-release' policy where nonviolent illegal aliens are released into the general public today," Perry told patrons at a New Hampshire diner Tuesday morning. "My policy will be to detain and to deport every illegal alien that we apprehend. That is how we stop that issue."
Perry took heat from many conservatives this fall, particularly for his support of a Texas law that would give in-state tuition benefits to the children of undocumented immigrants.