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Cut through political ads for where Prez hopefuls really stand on immigration

author Published by Roy Beck

We’ve just reviewed all 14 remaining Presidential candidates and posted the new ratings in 10 immigration categories:

With the Iowa caucuses barely a week away, our new ratings are likely to stir up almost everybody who likely will think we’ve graded everybody but their favorite too high. (At least, that is the usual feedback we get.)

Political ads are full of attacks on candidates for past transgressions on immigration. Our ratings take those past transgressions into account. But they are much more interested in the specificity, repetition and venue for what candidates are saying their immigration positions are right now. Every candidate except perhaps O’Malley has changed at least one immigration position significantly over time. What we want to see is if candidates are willing to change for the better outcome for American citizens.

Read much more detail about how we have been grading since last spring:


Our Grading Committee met in our offices today as the supposedly historic winter storm began pounding the DC area. We looked over the immigration comments in January’s debates and media interviews. There were a lot.

To read the quotes that we have added from January, click on any candidate’s photo.

We found those new statements earned the following changes in ratings:

{text}: “borders” downgraded to {text}: “amnesty” improved to {text}: “enforcement” improved to {text}: “e-verify” improved to {text}: “e-verify” improved to{text}: “work visas” downgraded to {text}: “amnesty” downgraded to {text} was the only candidate whose change in ratings also changed his overall grade –A (Santorum)
A (Cruz)
A-minus (Trump)

D+ (Fiorina)
D (Kasich)
D (Rubio)
F (Clinton)
F-minus (Sanders)
F-minus (O’Malley)


(This is what I wrote last spring when we put up the first version of the ratings.)

For the most part, candidates are being measured by the recommendations and principles of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform which favored an immigration system that protects the interests of American wage-earners (both U.S.-born and foreign-born). Commission members were chosen by leaders of each party in the Senate and House, with Chairwoman Barbara Jordan appointed by Pres. Bill Clinton.

Multiple polls find that every recommendation and principle in the NumbersUSA Grade Card is the favorite preference of U.S. voters.

Whether a Hopeful is rated Good or Very Good or Excellent, for example, can depend not only on dealing with all the aspects of a category but with the combination of a Hopeful’s actions, statements and signs of assertive commitment to leadership on the Hopeful’s stances in that category. The same is true for whether a Hopeful who supports using immigration to create a looser labor market is largely passive or an energetic leader and thus deserves a Harmful or Very Harmful or Abysmal rating.

Statements from years past are given little weight, compared to statements made in the last year.

The more public a recent promise the more value it has. We look for official positions on a Hopeful’s website or in official press releases. Quotes in the news media are considered (although we give candidate’s the opportunity to clarify statements they feel misrepresented what they truly are promising).

Unlike publications connected to partisan campaigns,We welcome Hopefuls who change their mind on an immigration issue and take a stand that is more favorable to wage-earners than in the past. We hope that all Hopefuls will become better advocates for the average American worker as debates and campaigning progress. We reject the idea that a politician’s specific, very public promise on an issue can’t be used in the future to hold that politician to the promise, or at least closer to it than if the promise had not been made. However, a history of broken promises and multiple changes of position will be noted and negatively affect a rating.

The issue of amnesty, or legalization, for illegal migrants tends to dominate public discussion of immigration issues. Our rating of Hopefuls in 10 categories is intended to educate the public and news media that immigration policy has a lot of nuances and niches. But ratings in several of the categories are affected by a Hopeful’s overall plans for handling the millions of illegal workers currently in the country. For example, a Hopeful may otherwise deserve an Excellent rating for all the details of a position on E-Verify but would get a lower E-Verify rating if the Hopeful promises those details only after giving work permits to most people in the country unlawfully.

ROY BECK is President & Founder of NumbersUSA

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Immigration Grade Cards

NumbersUSA provides the only comprehensive immigration grade cards. See how your member of Congress’ rates and find grades going back to the 104th Congress (1995-97).

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