Trump poised to reform America’s failed immigration policies

U.S. immigration policy is a joke — a bad joke that President-elect Donald Trump estimates costs our economy $113 billion per year and hurts millions, including both U.S. taxpayers and non — U.S. citizens waiting in line to come here legally.

Our next president knows we can do better. The rest of us should help him try.

I say this not just as Colorado’s former chief federal prosecutor, but as son of an Egyptian-born immigrant. My Dad, the late Edward Eid — a business owner and longtime head of the Colorado State Soccer Association — came to the United States solo on a student visa in 1957 at age 17 with just $100. He was never prouder, he often told me growing up, than the day he achieved his goal of becoming a U.S. citizen.

These days, however, the U.S. immigration system incentivizes illegal immigration over lawful entry to our country. To give just one example, a record 4.4 million foreign citizens are currently on the immigrant visa waiting list, according to the U.S. State Department. The largest category – nearly one-third – are from Mexico, and 98 percent of them are sponsored by at least one family member already living in the United States. Incredibly, the average wait-time for a Mexican citizen to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. legally is now more than 18 years. Some wait nearly twice that long.

Why wait to settle here legally when current law strongly favors illegal entry into our country?

One culprit is the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA), which gave amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who had resided in the US before 1982, while relaxing federal criminal penalties for employers who knowingly hire those who arrive later. Federal prosecutors confronting large-scale hiring of illegal immigrants are typically only able to charge misdemeanors, not felonies, with marginal fines and little or no prospect of jail time. No wonder the U.S. Department of Justice frequently chooses not to investigate or prosecute such wrongdoing.

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