In his first inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared, “America, at its best, is compassionate.”

I wholeheartedly agree with President Bush.

I’ve been fortunate to travel to other nations like Russia, Mexico, Kenya and Ghana. There was a consistent theme in these travels. So many people I met and befriended told me how lucky and blessed I am to live in the United States of America.

So as I read and watch news reports of families trying to migrate to our great nation, I humbly thank God for my country and the values it espouses: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The politics and policies of immigration are complicated and worthy of public debate, but a point on which every American should be able to agree is that we can certainly understand why people are willing to risk their lives to come to this country. Who would not want to have their family live in a nation that offers unparalleled opportunity and freedom?

Our country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As a New Mexican and as chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, I don’t begrudge anyone from another country for wanting to move their family to the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. My father’s father migrated from Italy and, as well, my mother’s grandparents came from Lebanon so their descendants would have every opportunity to pursue the American dream.

We are a nation of immigrants. That fact is one of our greatest strengths as a country. However, our current immigration system has no acceptable answer for how to deal with children whose parents bring them here for a brighter future. Therefore, we must encourage Congress to fix our immigration laws.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made an astute assertion about how to handle people illegally crossing the border with children when he said, “Returning to a policy that only adults with children are released would create an incentive to bring kids. Yes separating families is cruel, but so is a policy that encourages parents to bring their kids on a dangerous journey. Instead let’s #Detain and Maintain families together.”

We are a nation of laws, and we should respect those laws. But when those laws are ineffective or inadequate, we are obligated to change them for the better. President George Washington said, “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself has ordained.” We also live in a universe of divine precepts declared by God; these include, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.” Another familiar concept that we embrace is the call to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We as Americans have a responsibility to hold firm the laws of the land, but also the tenets of God in which our great nation was founded upon. America and its citizens will always be held to a high standard. That means we must lead when it comes to immigration, foreign policy, homeland and border security, and humanitarianism.
I encourage all of our leaders in the Land of Enchantment and throughout the country to allow civility, dignity, respect and selflessness to drive the day and act with compassion toward children and families while also ensuring protection of our citizenry and our sovereign borders. Ultimately, we are talking about human beings, many of them children, all of whom we are called to love.

Ryan Cangiolosi is the state Republican Party chairman.

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