- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One of the nation’s leading immigration hard-liners threw his support behind three-term Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday, saying Mr. Perry has done more to combat illegal immigration and secure the border than any other candidate in the Republican presidential field.

During a campaign swing with Mr. Perry through New Hampshire, Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio claimed that while the federal government has failed on border crime and enforcement, Perry-led “border surge operations with state, local and federal law enforcement officials have helped shut down the illegal trafficking of weapons, drugs and people.”

“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,” Sheriff Arpaio said, according to a news release. “Governor Perry has a superior border security record and plan to make our border and our nation safer.”

The endorsement could help Mr. Perry overcome some of the backlash — including from some of his GOP rivals — against his support of in-state tuition for some children of illegal immigrations as well as his opposition to a border fence, which he has said “does not make sense.” Mr. Perry has advocated a more boots-on-the-ground operation.

Before throwing his support to Mr. Perry, Sheriff Arpaio met with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and businessman Herman Cain and spoke with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whom he endorsed in 2008 over Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Mr. Perry said that Sheriff Arpaio knows the struggle border states face and that he was “honored” to have his support.

“A secure border is vital to protecting America’s national security, public safety and jobs,” Mr. Perry said. “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.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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