AMHERST, NH -- There's a new sheriff in town. Well, in the greater Manchester area, anyway.
Continuing an aggressive push to soothe conservatives' fears on his immigration record, Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday touted the support of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and called for the deportation of all detained illegal immigrants.
"Amnesty is not on the table, period," Perry declared at a diner in Amherst, NH, this morning, the first stop where the tough-talking Arizona sheriff joined him on the campaign trail. "There will be no amnesty in the United States. We're a country of laws."
Arpaio, who is known for his vehement support for Arizona's tough immigration laws, said it was "a pleasure and honor" to back the Texas governor, whom he called "an honorable and ethical person with a great family."
"He doesn't just talk about it," Arpaio said of Perry's work on border security. "He does something about it."
Perry used tough language to describe the White House's immigration laws; he promised to detain and deport non-violent as well as violent illegal immigrants who are apprehended by law enforcers.
"The Obama administration has a catch-and-release policy where nonviolent illegal aliens are released into the general public," said Perry. "My policy will be to detain and to deport every illegal alien that we apprehend. That is how you stop this. And we'll do it with expedited hearings so that millions of illegal immigrants are not released into the general population until a hearing date's set several weeks or months later as we have now."
Perry had found his position on immigration assailed by presidential primary opponents after he stuck by a policy he had implemented as governor, which granted in-state college tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. Perry said during a debate that opponents of that policy were heartless, but he had since backtracked on those comments.
The Arpaio endorsement allows Perry a degree of pushback on those concerns, especially as conservatives now turn their attention to the resurgent former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, who has stood by his policy of a limited path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have laid down roots in the U.S.
"Several of my friends have said I'm for amnesty. That's not true. At least one of them has run around saying I want to have amnesty for 11 million people. That's just totally false. That's in fact an Obama level quality statement," Gingrich said yesterday in South Carolina.
Perry acknowledged that he didn't have "all the answers" on how to deal with those illegal immigrants who have been in the country for many years and called for "an appropriate discussion" on Capitol Hill.
"We have to identify everybody that's here. And there's going to be an appropriate discussion with Congress on how to deal with an individual who has been here maybe for some long period of time."
Asked by a voter about Texas's granting of in-state tuition for the children of some illegal immigrants - an issue since Perry's comment that those who disagree with the educational benefits "don't have a heart" - Perry said (as he has before in radio interviews) that his remark was "inappropriate."
Speaking to reporters after the event at Joey's diner, Arpaio would not respond to questions about whether or not he agrees with the governor's tuition policy.
Arpaio, who supported Mitt Romney last cycle, said that while Romney's position on immigration has improved, he's backing Perry this time because of the governor's Texas experience.
Perry has three more events in New Hampshire Tuesday and two on Wednesday.