Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

Of the 8 highest-polling potential candidates for President in 2012, which ones get the best immigration-reduction grades after we consider all their stances on the 12 most important immigration issues? 

The answer is below. But the "best" gets only a "C." 

You can always get to the Prez Grid from our home page by clicking on the big red box in the right column with the label "Compare Presidential Hopefuls."

We posted the Prez Grid yesterday and already have gotten a few hundred emails about it.  Most people are depressed that not one of the Hopefuls rates even a "B." But there is a lot of time to help these candidates improve their voice on this urgent issue. 

Based on our Prez Grid during the 2008 campaign and the 2010 congressional comparisons, this new Prez Grid will quickly become the most widely quoted measure of where potential presidential candidates stand on immigration issues. 

We will update the source material, the ratings and the grades every week until the Primaries are over a year from now.

We take our responsibility very seriously to consider:

  • Every immigration reference on official websites of the politicians.
  • Every quote on immigration printed in a mainstream newspaper or in a transcript on a TV or radio website.
  • Every immigration action a politician has previously taken in an official capacity.

Based on what we find, we then give each Hopeful a rating in each of the 12 immigration categories.  The rating choices are Excellent, Good, First Steps, Unhelpful, Bad and Abysmal.

We add up each Hopeful's 12 ratings to come up with an overall letter grade which is displayed just above that politician's photo.


When we added everything up, we found that as of this week of Jan. 17, 2011, Tim Pawlenty has the best overall platform on immigration.

But the platform is missing a bunch of planks (as are the platforms of all the others except Pres. Obama and former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee).

Here are the grades for this week of Jan. 17 (listed in point order, from best to worst):

C..................Tim Pawlenty (GOP--former governor of Minnesota)

C-minus.....John Thune (GOP--Senator from South Dakota)

C-minus.....Ron Paul (GOP--Representative from Texas)

D..................Mike Huckabee (GOP--former governor of Arkansas)

D..................Mitt Romney (GOP--former governor of Massachusetts)

D-minus.....Sarah Palin (GOP--former governor of Alaska)

D-minus.....Newt Gingrich (GOP--former Speaker of U.S. House)

F-minus.....Barack Obama (DEM--President of the United States)

Be sure to go to the grid to see the 12 ratings that led to each of those grades. Then, click on the photo of a Hopeful to see detailed information on why each rating was given.


Many of you have suggested others whom you would like to see us rate and put on the grid. Feel free to use the email link underneath the Prez Grid to nominate other Hopefuls.

The 8 we show today on the Grid were selected based on the interest they have shown in potentially running for President, and in the interest that the news media has in them, plus their standing in the rather thin preference polling thus far.

We will be adding other people to -- and removing people from -- the Grid as these levels of interest shift.  We expect to add 3 more to the Grid in the next week without taking anybody off. 


Most of you correctly were discouraged when you looked at the current top field for President, running ALL THE WAY from F-minus to a C-grade!  How exciting, right?

I agree with your ratings and grades and that is the prime reason I could not support any of these so called front runners.  Not that I’m a one issue voter, just that I believe this is critical to employment of American Citizens and any equivocation shows a lack of sincerity and understanding of the illegal and legal immigration issue.

-- Tom S.

None of your candidates is acceptable. They still aren't hearing what Americans are telling them.

-- Audrey P.

My goodness, we don't have any other hopefuls? I'm 67 years old and the current list makes me want to rent a boat and sail to an island. 

-- Tom H. 

One reason for hope is that the first Primary and Caucus votes are a year away.  That leaves a lot of time for voters to help these Presidential Hopefuls to understand the urgency of reducing all immigration in order to benefit unemployed Americans and taxpayers.

A second reason for hope can be seen in the 3 top-graded Hopefuls, Pawlenty, Thune and Paul.

Their low grade is not the result of doing anything or saying anything wrong about immigration. Note that they do not have any red symbols on their Grid.

The problem is that while they ranked well (green symbols) in 4 to 6 immigration categories, they have done/said virtually nothing in all the others.  Pawlenty, for example, rates an Excellent in two categories, a Good in three, and a First Steps in one.  But those don't give him enough points to even get into B-Territory.  Voters need to help him both understand the national importance of dealing constructively with the other 6 categories of immigration and the political importance for him to do so.  He has to understand that doing the right thing on those 6 other immigration issues would gain him more votes than he would lose.

The same can be said for Thune and Paul. And for the other candidates whose grades are weighed down by having more than one red symbol each. That means Huckabee, Romney, Palin, Gingrich and Obama currently are taking some or several stances opposed to our low-immigration/high-enforcement solutions.


A number of people think our grading is too tough.  Their disagreement with us tends to focus on the "Unhelpful" rating.

Your rating of a D-minus for someone who had taken no stance at all is absurd.  Your overall grades are far too harsh, and provide nearly no differentiation between candidates.  We can agree that each of the candidates could and should be a lot better than they are, but there is a world of difference between some of the candidates, and your ratings lump them all way down.  But for starters, the “unhelpful” category needs to be changed to incomplete.  I do not believe it should be held as either a plus or a minus – YET.

-- Mickey F.

For the most part the black circle symbol and "Unhelpful" rating goes to a politician who has done or said virtually nothing about that immigration issue.

How should doing nothing be rated?  Some think it should have a neutral effect.  But let's take the example of the category of Chain Migration that adds around a quarter-million permanent immigrant worker visas to the country each year.

For the 22 million Americans who want a full-time job but cannot find one, is a candidate merely "incomplete" by failing to do anything about potentially a quarter-million more foreign job competitors each year? Or is that candidate at the least "unhelpful?"

When it comes to the status quo, the damage is done to the American people whether a candidate aggressively supports the status quo or just silently allows it to happen.

That's why we grade silence and do-nothingness as "Unhelpful."  And why a candidate who does nothing bad but also does nothing good and merely does nothing about the 12 immigration issues will get a D-minus under our grading system.

Our ratings and grades reflect an urgency about the 22 million Americans who can't find that job. And about the families who are depending on them.

Our Prez Grid reflects the urgency about the federal government continuing to force massive population growth while the nation is unable to meet its infrastructure and environmental goals with the current population size.


As happened when we rated all the Presidential Hopefuls in 2007 and 2008, some of you are pretty disturbed by the ratings we are giving to the candidate(s) you are supporting.

If you are going to become another (name of candidate) BASHING SITE, kindly remove my name and never call on me again. I will send this on to everyone I know . . . Until you talk directly with (name of candidate), you have no right to rate (so low). . . . You are going to find out just how many people you (make really angry)!

-- Wayne 

Please understand that NumbersUSA is interested only in immigration stances.  We have no interest in promoting or demoting any candidate.  We just want to provide the immigration positions in as fair of a manner as possible.

We do not purport to tell you what is in the heart of the Hopefuls or what they might privately tell somebody they plan to do.  Our Prez Grid is about what they are willing to say in public and the real actions they have taken.

If you don't like the grade your favorite candidate has right now, you have two options:

  • Send us a link to a quote on a news site or the candidate's site that provides evidence that the candidate is better on an immigration issue than we have stated.
  • Contact your candidate or his/her campaign and repeatedly urge him/her to take better immigration positions.


I'm happy to report that the vast majority of you who have looked at the Prez Grid have found it helpful, credible and fair.

We especially appreciated James' assessment: 

If you have ever used Consumers Report to help evaluate a major purchase, then you will be familiar with the format of this Presidential Hopeful chart.  In my opinion, this chart shares a striking resemblance to those early years of Consumers Report’s American made autos evaluation—lots of Red ink—and Americans flocked to the higher quality imported cars.  I think the analogy is remarkable—like the leaders of the Domestic Auto Industry, the leaders of our Federal Government just don’t get it when it comes to judging what the Public wants.  Or the case could easily be made that they may get it, but don’t give a (flip) because we will buy it anyway.  Right!!?  I mean, we will buy the load of BS from one of these Hopefuls…right?  We don’t have a choice, do we—no competition from a better source seems to be part of the problem.

James L.

I just hope the Detroit analogy doesn't carry all the way through the campaign. Let's push Pres. Obama and his GOP challengers to start offering Americans what they want in immigration policy.


We don't expect that you will just blindly accept our grades. Rather, we make every step of our grading process transparent so you can inspect the details and decide if you have a different conclusion.

That is why we give you quotes and citations for you to make your own assessment.

Thanks for any help you can give to this process.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

P.S.  There IS something you can do right now.  You can email and phone any of these people and tell them about their Immigration Grades. 

You do that by clicking on their name-links in my blog.  That will take you to their individual page that has information on how to contact them.

Especially, tell them about the immigration issues that they need to address and tell them where they are going wrong right now.  These kind of contacts this early in the campaign can have great influence.

Report Cards
Presidential Candidates

Updated: Thu, Jan 20th 2011 @ 3:40pm EST

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