Sheriff Joe Arpaio hits Republican National Convention stage

Posted at 12:53 PM, Jul 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 22:27:45-04

Sheriff Joe Arpaio briefly hit the Republican National Convention stage Thursday night, touting his personal relationship with nominee Donald Trump -- and talking tough on immigration.

Watch his full speech in the player above.

"We are the only country in the world who's immigration systems put the needs of other nations ahead of ours," Arpaio said. "We are more concerned with the rights of illegal aliens and criminals than we are with protecting our own country." 

The six-term sheriff, who paid his own way to Cleveland, has been an enthusiastic Trump supporter for the past year and has regularly campaigned for the New York businessman, traveling to Iowa in January to endorse him ahead of that state's caucuses.

The speech comes a day after a federal judge in Phoenix presiding over a racial profiling case handed down the first round of punishments for the lawman's decision to prolong his signature immigration patrols months after being told to stop. Arpaio has been found in civil contempt in the case, and the judge ordered an overhaul of internal affairs investigations at his department, with additional sanctions expected.

He voluntarily gave up his last major foothold in immigration enforcement in January 2015 after the courts and federal government gradually reined in his powers.

The sheriff's political strength has been gradually declining over the past four election cycles. But Arpaio's base of devoted supporters and his impressive fundraising have helped him pull out wins.

Arpaio said the court case hasn't hurt his standing with Trump.

"This has been in the news for years, especially the past year, it's been all over the place," Arpaio said. "That didn't affect my campaigning for Donald Trump or how he feels for me. He's been mentioning me almost every speech he gives, so there's nothing new with that decision, it's been there on and on and on."

On Friday, Arpaio is set to appear before U.S. District Judge Murray Snow for a hearing to examine whether he will recommend a criminal contempt-of-court case against Arpaio for ignoring his orders in the racial profiling case.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office confirmed to ABC15 that Arpaio will be present.