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It also makes it illegal to knowingly hire or transport illegal immigrants.

“Most of us in law enforcement welcome this legislation,” said Sheriff Babeu. He said it brings uniformity to the state, so all police know what’s expected of them, and illegal immigrants know the penalties.

In 2006, facing accusations from Congress that he had been lax on border security, President Bush deployed the National Guard to support the Border Patrol in the Southwest, with mixed results.

Some National Guard troops built infrastructure or handled clerical tasks to free up Border Patrol agents. In other instances, Border Patrol agents had to be assigned as bodyguards to protect Guard units, many of which were not allowed to carry loaded weapons. Border Patrol agents called the assignment “the nanny patrol.”

Sheriff Babeu said troops should serve a support role and make their presence on the border to show the enforcement action is serious. He said illegal immigrants will respect and fear the military uniform.

Still, Angela M. Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, said Mr. McCain and Mr. Kyl’s plan is incomplete as long as it focuses only on security, not on a legal channel for future workers and current illegal immigrants. She said those broader measures are the only ways to take pressure off the border.

“They’ve only got half the plays in the playbook if you want to focus just on border security,” she said.

Her organization released a report on border security last week that called for sharing technology with Mexican authorities, and backed the idea of a binational border authority with its own budget and staff to create unified procedures for security, back-and-forth traffic and protecting the environment.

For Mr. McCain, who is now involved in a tough primary battle with former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Monday’s embrace of a security bill was controversial.

He was a key author of an immigration-reform bill a few years ago and was a chief backer of efforts in 2006 and 2007 to pass a measure through the Senate. But after that 2007 bill failed, Mr. McCain said voters need to be convinced that the borders are secure before they will accept any action on legalizing illegal immigrants.

Mr. Hayworth called Mr. McCain’s move an “election-year gimmick,” while immigrant rights groups said they felt betrayed by a former ally.

“What a sad day,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading advocacy group. “Obviously, John McCain is fighting for his political life in Arizona. I sure miss the days when he fought for his principles.”