Updated: In NH, ‘Sheriff Joe’ endorses Rick Perry
At a campaign stop in Amherst, New Hampshire this morning Texas Gov. Rick Perry received the official endorsement of Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a well-known border security advocate and illegal immigration opponent. In his remarks, Arpaio cited Perry’s record of working to improve border security in Texas.
The Perry camp claims that as governor, Perry has directed more than $400 million since 2005 to provide Texas law enforcement agencies the tools they need to combat border-related crime, and that in January 2009, Perry asked President Obama to authorize 1,000 additional National Guard troops and six helicopters to enhance border control efforts, but his request was denied.
Figures released by his campaign indicate that Perry’s border security initiatives have resulted in the seizure of 6.8 million pounds of marijuana; 82,353 pounds of cocaine; 1,835 pounds of heroin; and 7,552 pounds of methamphetamine which has an estimated value of more than $6.5 billion, as well as $227 million in currency and more than 3,500 illegal weapons.
NH Journal had the opportunity to speak with Sheriff Arpaio as he traveled the state with Perry today. The Arizonan mentioned that his support had been courted by at least three other 2012 contenders, with Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann paying visits to his office and Mitt Romney reaching out via phone, but stated that he chose to go with Perry due to the Texan’s unmatched experience dealing with the county’s Southern border.
“He’s been governor over 11 years and has jurisdiction over the U.S.-Mexican border for about 1,200 miles out of the 2,000 miles,” said Arpaio of Perry, “He sent the DPS [Department of Public Safety], the Texas Rangers, the National Guard and $400 million to patrol that border since the Feds are not doing everything they can to secure it, so he has a proven record of going after those coming into our country smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants.”
Arpaio also referenced his own experience working in the Mexico City area, comparing it to Perry’s background: “This is a diplomatic problem too, not just a law enforcement problem, so I’m convinced that being from Texas as he is and dealing with the Mexican government for many years he’d be able to deal with the next Mexican president and get their help.”
Arpaio stated his intention to continue to support Perry on the campaign trail, in the hopes that Perry can bring a new leadership on border control and immigration to the White House. “I’d like to see some leadership to try to get the politicians in Washington and in Congress to try to do something about it and not just talk about it. If they don’t like the laws, pass new laws,” he said, “Something has to be done…and I’m sure with the Governor’s leadership we’d be able to get that done.”
Perry, who has faced criticism for his failing to take enough of a hardline approach to illegal immigration, enthusiastically broadcasted the endorsement, stating, “Sheriff Arpaio knows the struggle border states face as Washington politicians and bureaucrats fail time and again to properly secure our nation’s southern boundary with Mexico. 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. 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.”