America's Top 10 'Toughest' Immigration Sheriffs

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona's most outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, has long been the face of local law enforcement's ongoing efforts to identify, detain and deport undocumented aliens from America's streets.

But there are other lawmen throughout the country -- including several in non-border states -- who have a strong track record for being tough on immigration and who are not afraid to share their often-polarizing points of view.

According to the National Sheriffs' Association, there were 3,083 sheriffs in the United States as of Sept. 1. A sheriff is generally the highest -- usually elected -- law enforcement officer of a county and typically serves a four-year term. In some states, those terms are two-year stints. Three states -- Alaska, Connecticut and Hawaii -- do not have sheriff's offices and use other types of law enforcement systems. conducted an informal poll of immigration experts, think tanks and law enforcement organizations in an effort to compile a list of the nation's Top 10 "toughest" immigration sheriffs. And while half of them hang their Stetsons in Arizona, you may be surprised by some of the others.

One wants to sue the Mexican government to recoup local tax dollars spent on detaining and housing illegal immigrants in county jails. Another has told residents of a tiny Texas town to arm themselves due to increasing violence along the border.

One expert, Muzzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute's office at New York University School of Law, said Arpaio has clearly paved the way for a younger breed of lawmen who loudly oppose illegal immigration, and now there are plenty of protégés to go around.

"Clearly Arpaio stands out as America's toughest sheriff and stands out as a bit of an outlier," Chishti said. 

"But he is clearly not the only one."