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2016 Presidential Hopefuls Rating Criteria



How We Rate and Grade


Wed, May 13, 2015
by Roy Beck

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.

Actions in recent years are given far more weight than earlier actions. 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, NumbersUSA has no interest in "gotcha" quotes or so-called gaffes. We're interested in mature discussion of serious topics. We recognize that politicians are juggling myriad issues and cannot be expected to be experts in all of them. It is not surprising that they sometimes contradict themselves and become confused. In such cases, we encourage them to publicly clarify their positions. 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 the CEO & Founder of NumbersUSA

Descriptions of the 10 Immigration Grade Card Categories


Below are explanations about the 10 categories of immigration on which we base our ratings and grades for Presidential Hopefuls. Under each, we offer many of the criteria we use to analyze each Hopeful's promises and past actions.

Reduce Competition From -- and Enticements For -- ILLEGAL WORK FORCE 


No single immigration enforcement action will open up more jobs for Americans than enacting an "E-Verify-plus" law that requires every employer to use E-verify to determine work eligibility for every employee.

This two-decade program is inexpensive and immensely popular with employers who currently volunteer to use it. But until it is made mandatory, it won't be used by the employers most likely to harm American workers by breaking immigration hiring laws.

The "plus" part of the law would be requirements such as no-match letters sent to employers when the information given by an employee doesn't match existing federal databases. Employees are offered ample time to help correct mistakes in those databases when they occur. The "plus" would also require notification of workers whose Social Security number is being used by multiple workers, helping to root out identity theft and fraud.

And there must be a commitment never shown by any previous President to enforce penalties against employers who violate the law.

H.R. 1147 is an excellent model for how to do all of the above.

Without "E-Verify-plus," no amount of security on our borders can keep legal visitors from overstaying their visas and taking jobs from Americans.

We rate candidates on their stances on all the above issues, plus how fast they would phase in mandates, whether they allow any exceptions and whether they support E-Verify only if it is mandated after most illegal migrants are given legal work permits.


More than half the millions of U.S. jobs that Americans are denied are held by foreign citizens who crossed our borders illegally. Successive Presidents have failed to implement the border security measures that already have been signed into laws.
Candidates are rated on their commitment to implementing those laws and on their specific promises about increasing judges to rapidly turn back surges at the border, about the number of miles and types of fencing, about manpower and equipment to make the fence and virtual fencing work, and full backing of the Border Patrol to achieve the 100% operational control of the borders that current law requires.


The Administration should cooperate with and facilitate efforts by state and local governments to move unlawfully present foreign nationals from their communities in order to increase job opportunities for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants already there.

These efforts will be particularly important to keep illegal foreign workers from an underground job economy when E-Verify is in use by all legitimate employers. H.R. 1148 contains a number of the provisions that are needed.

The President needs to restore and expand the 287g program that helps willing localities enforce immigration laws. The President needs to enforce laws already on the books that penalize sanctuary cities and states that fail to cooperate with immigration officials, and that penalize states and localities that break federal law in providing in-state tuition, driver's licenses and other benefits to illegal workers.

The Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax incentives should be eliminated for illegal foreign workers. Support of proper equipment and manpower for ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) is essential for credible interior enforcement.
We will also rate candidates on their pledges that ICE will process for removal every alien released from incarceration. And we will be looking for a pledge to use the law that authorizes withholding new visas from countries that refuse to accept their citizens who have been deported from the U.S.


Successive Presidents have refused to implement the law requiring a computerized, bio-metric check-in/check-out system that would allow the government to track every foreign citizen who enters the U.S. and be aware the day that foreign visitors fail to check-out by the exit date on their visa.

Visa overstayers account for nearly half the U.S. jobs that are filled by illegal aliens.

We will rate candidates based on what they say about requiring the entry-exit system at all airports, all seaports and at all ground entrances, including pedestrian crossings.


Hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens are given lifetime U.S. work visas every year by through the practice of granting automatic citizenship to every birth to a tourist, visiting student or illegal alien.

Although they obviously don't immediately begin competing for jobs, they eventually do. Every year, hundreds of thousands of the "anchor babies" turn 18, fully eligible for the U.S. job market.

In the short-term, these children of foreign citizens harm American workers because they are used to excuse their parents' illegal presence here, allowing many to continue to illegally hold U.S. jobs and creating pressure to give the parents amnesty and lifetime work permits to compete with any American for any job.

H.R. 140 is an excellent model for a law that would end automatic birthright citizenship. The United States should join nearly all other advanced nations -- and the majority of all other nations -- in ending this antiquated practice.

Prevent Competition From AMNESTIED WORKERS  


Because these grade cards are focused on one aspect -- the effect on American workers -- the amnesty category weighs only the position of a Hopeful about giving work permits and does not consider whether a Hopeful advocates some kind of legal presence for illegal migrants or some kind of deportation.

Regardless of what candidates may think about the use of deportations to re-establish the rule of law in our immigration system, we are rating them on their commitments about whether they will force Americans to compete in the legal job market with millions of foreign citizens who are in the United States illegally.

What will Hopefuls do concerning work permits for those illegal aliens offered benefits through executive actions by the current President?

If they favor giving work permits to some illegal migrants, how many? And after what other measures are taken to reduce the competition to American workers created by our immigration system?

Reduce Unfair Competition From FUTURE LEGAL IMMIGRANT WORKERS  


The most recent bi-partisan federal commission on immigration (chaired by Barbara Jordan) recommended cutting annual numbers of legal immigration to half the current level in order to protect the jobs and wages for America's most vulnerable workers. That would be a reduction from more than a million a year to around 500,000 a year. That is still twice as high as annual immigration in the 1950s and 1960s (which was about the average up until that time).

It is the flow of legal immigration -- rather than illegal immigration -- that is the most harmful to American workers because most of the foreign workers competing for jobs and wages have been brought here legally. Since every legal immigrant gets a lifetime work permit, the offer of immigration should always be considered very seriously in terms of whether it will make it harder for American workers to gain a job or wage increase.

We look for signs that a candidate even acknowledges that the numerical level is important to consider, then whether the candidate opposes increases, then whether there is advocacy for any kind of reduction and finally whether the candidate  supports something like the "Jordan Commission" numerical recommendation.


The No. 1 cause of the quadrupling of legal annual immigration levels over the last 50 years has been new chain-migration categories that allow each immigrant to petition for certain adult relatives, each of whom can petition for their relatives, creating a virtually endless chain of migration into the future.

The bi-partisan federal "Jordan Commission" on immigration recommended (for the sake of American workers) that family-based immigration be limited to the nuclear family of spouse and minor children, as was the case during most of our history. Unlimited adoptions and marriages overseas would continue to be allowed.

We rate candidates on how much chain migration they recommend eliminating and what they would do with the current backlog of several million. Our position is that the government should refund the application fees of those in the backlog and cancel their applications. With modern communication and transportation, relatives have ample ways to interact with the immigrants who left them behind to move to the U.S. With E-Verify, entry-exit and other systems operating to discourage most visa overstays, we can make the U.S. can be an even easier place for relatives to visit in the future.

The problem with chain migration is not that immigrants' relatives are undesirable but that they needlessly fill millions of jobs while tens of millions of working-age Americans don't have a job.


The government should institute safeguards that will prevent importation of specific foreign workers for specific kinds of visas and jobs any time that would threaten the jobs or depress the wages of American workers.

Employment-based visas (lifetime and temporary) should be issued only after a job has been posted nationally for Americans to apply, and the process should be transparent so the public can see which employers are filling which jobs with foreign workers.


The government should stop using a lottery to raffle off lifetime work permits to tens of thousands of randomly chosen foreign citizens each year (an elimination suggested by the bi-partisan federal commission on immigration).

These work permits are given out without regard to whether a foreign worker has a skill that is needed by this country and without any consideration to the effect on the employment and wages of American workers.

Ratings in this category are downgraded if the Hopeful proposes to end the visa lottery but to re-allocate all the visas to another category.