Though Donald Trump has been tagged by much of the media as the main voice on illegal immigration among the 2016 presidential candidates, the billionaire was scrutinized this week by a leading pro-border enforcement organization.
The NumbersUSA Education and Research Foundation, which rates presidential candidates, raised serious questions about Trump’s commitment to border enforcement and interior enforcement, while also upgrading Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum for their comments.
Numbers USA CEO Roy Beck referred to Trump’s comments last week, saying the billionaire businessman “stumbled and let himself get boxed into saying he would offer amnesty to the illegal aliens who aren't the ‘bad ones.’” He continued: “He seemed to be defensive and trying to prove that he isn't hostile to immigrants by also indicating he would like to see legal immigration increased.”
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Trump said: “I'm a believer in the merit system. If somebody's been outstanding, we try and work something out.”
The NumbersUSA post quoted Trump in Arizona saying, "I love legal immigration … We should make it easier, and faster."
Numbers USA's post was headlined, "Trump Pro-Amnesty? Walker Stands Firm Against Pro-Amnesty Ambush. Lots of Changed Presidential Immigration Rating."
The organization only gives Trump a grade of C, like most other Republican candidates. Santorum is the only candidate with an A from the group. Walker has a B-, the second-best grade. The group gives former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush a D+, and gives an F to South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, along with every Democratic candidate.
NumbersUSA says it favors reductions in all immigration numbers, but favors making it easier to legally visit, travel and study in the United States. The organization focuses on how immigration affects the work force.
Walker made news last week in Iowa when an illegal immigrant family confronted him and Walker told the family, “We are a nation of laws.”
NumbersUSA said Walker “stood strong and unapologetic about the importance of the rule of law, and declined to concede an amnesty.”
Meanwhile, the organization praised Santorum who in a PBS interview, “resisted being trapped into talking about immigration issues in the paradigm the mainstream media prefers.”
“It goes with, how are we going to create a better opportunity for lower-skilled workers in America,” Santorum told PBS. “Many of those poor children you're talking about, who are not going to be able to go to college? How are we going to create the opportunity for them to rise in society?”