End chain migration, as Trump wants, and switch to merit-based immigration

America is handling immigration all wrong. As the son of an immigrant father, I firmly believe immigration represents a pillar of America’s long-term success and has kept our nation growing and dynamic for centuries. But our present misbegotten policies must be reformed to select immigrants based on merit, rather than family ties.

Reform is needed because our current policies undermine our national and economic security. In addition, without reform Americans will surely turn against immigration in principle.

Today the majority of immigrant-headed households receive some form of government welfare assistance. This represents a totally untenable abuse of taxpayers and utterly upends the immigration realities faced by most of our ancestors who arrived in America expecting nothing more than an opportunity.

Even worse, recent terrorist attacks – especially the Halloween truck attack and Dec. 11 Port Authority bombing in New York City – highlight the perils of allowing highly risky people into our nation via lottery and chain migration models.

What is chain migration? Essentially, it is the fastest and easiest way to gain legal entry into America, via sponsorship by a family member who’s already a legal resident or citizen of the United States. In fact, 70 percent of all immigrant arrivals in recent decades are chain migrants.

Certainly, family ties in the Unites States comprise one sensible input into filtering who should receive immigration status. But extended bloodlines should hardly represent the dominant factor. The most important factor should and must be merit.

Senators Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., are sponsoring the RAISE Act. This bill would create a point system to evaluate potential immigrants based on such factors as age, education, professional skills and English proficiency. We also must, as best we can, determine if potential migrants love our country, respect our Constitution and embrace our values.

Instead, we’ve instituted an insane visa lottery program to supposedly diversify our immigrant pool, where new immigrants are literally selected at random. Among the “lucky” winners was Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov from Uzbekistan, an ISIS sympathizer who killed eight people in New York City with his truck.

Because the lottery winners then sponsor relatives via chain migration, our nation has now welcomed 5 million random people here with a path to citizenship. Among those 5 million is Akayed Ullah, the wannabe Port Authority suicide bomber who, thankfully, was better at hating America than he was at making bombs.

Ullah was allowed into America because his aunt won the immigration lottery. We cannot have more “nephew lottery picks” who attack our innocents because they resent Christmas displays.

The Trump administration deserves huge credit for largely securing our border after only months in office. Illegal crossings have plunged as the result of better enforcement and clear-eyed policies and rhetoric.

Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recently said that President Trump “has done more for our border security and public safety than any of the six presidents I’ve worked for.”

Now the president must complete the job of making immigration work for our country and put the safety and economic prosperity of America first.

We need to build the wall on our border with Mexico, end the visa lottery, restrict chain migration to only spouses and minor children, and move swiftly toward a merit-based immigration system. With those reforms, we can again be the “city on a hill” that attracts the migrants of the world with the skills and drive to help Make America Great Again.

Steve Cortes is a Fox News contributor, former Trump campaign operative and spokesman for the Hispanic 100. For two decades, he worked on Wall Street as a trader and strategist.