Eid’s Ethnicity an Asset, Not an Issue

U.S. attorney, son of Egyptian immigrant, says his post reinforces
America’s freedoms

Bush appointee says he’ll fight illegal immigration, drug
trafficking and those who prey on children.

At dinner atop a Denver office tower recently, a visiting Jordanian
military chief who’d just been introduced to the new U.S. attorney,
Troy Eid, an Arab-American, approached Eid incredulously.

“How can that be?” Eid recalled the Jordanian asking. A man of
Arab descent couldn’t possibly be picked to represent U.S.
government interests, the Jordanian said. “It must be a token
post. … Are you wealthy?”

Appointed by President Bush, Eid responded with pride, he said:
“I’m not wealthy. I went to Wheat Ridge High School. That’s the
great thing about this country.

“If my background can show a few people what’s possible in this
country, that’s great,” Eid said.

Drug trafficking a focus

Today, Eid marks the formal start of his service after an ambitious
first six weeks on the job as the government’s top law enforcement
officer for Colorado. The only son of an Egyptian immigrant, Eid,
42, appears to be the the only Arab-American among the 94 U.S.
attorneys at a time when much of the world has questioned American
principles of equality.

And with enforcement of immigration law his top priority, Eid said
he’ll draw on this background and a longstanding “interest in the
underdog” to ensure fairness.

“Being fair is very important, telling people what your policy is
going to be,” he said. “You get into problems when you’re

The criminals he vows to prosecute most aggressively – deportees
who illegally re-enter the United States – often prey on immigrant
communities, he said.

And criminals from abroad often drive illegal drug trafficking, his
second major priority. Colorado has emerged as one of the busiest
drug distribution centers in the country, with transnational gangs
taking root.

Taken together, immigration and drug-related crime now dominate
federal criminal prosecution in Colorado.

Other priorities for Eid: sexual exploitation of children using the
Internet and terrorism cases – the overall top priority of the
Justice Department under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

“We get terrorism cases. We take them very seriously. They
typically come to us through the JTTF (the FBI-run Joint Terrorism
Task Force). … We have some investigations that have resulted in
charges and convictions.”

A symbolic investiture ceremony scheduled for this afternoon marks
the formal beginning for Eid, who on Aug. 11 replaced acting U.S.
Attorney William Leone. He had served since December 2004, when
John Suthers resigned to become Colorado attorney general after Ken
Salazar left that position for the U.S. Senate.

Eid previously worked as legal counsel to Gov. Bill Owens and as a
lawyer specializing in environmental and Indian affairs cases. He
grew up in Wheat Ridge and graduated from Stanford University and
the University of Chicago law school. His wife, Allison Eid,
because a Colorado Supreme Court justice in February. They have two

Always an American

Eid’s father, the late Edward Eid, fled from Egypt in 1957 after
military dictator Gamal Nasser took power. He started fresh in
America, working at a steel factory and as an accountant at a
candle factory. He dealt with discrimination along the way.

“My dad was typical of immigrants off the boat. … He would have
been offended if anyone focused on his roots. He came from a time
when you put your head down and assimilated as quickly as
possible,” Eid said in an interview Wednesday.

“I thought of myself as an American whose father was from

Diversifying the government’s legal workforce – only 18 of 94 U.S.
attorneys are women – also has loomed as a goal.

“I venture Eid is among the first Arab-Americans to hold such as
office,” said Nidal Ibrahim, executive director of the
Arab-American Institute.

“During an especially critical and sensitive time in our country’s
history, having an Arab-American serving as U.S. attorney for Colorado represents an important milestone.”