How is life treating you here in the “greatest nation on earth?”

I still believe deeply in that saying about the United States of America. The sum of our collective accomplishments far outpaces our mistakes. I believe the will to do what is right is still strong, and it remains the invisible but tangible energy that guides our national compass, much as magnetism does for a traveler who puts his faith in a tool that will bring him safely somewhere.

It should not surprise us that the same unique desire to be a beacon of hope to the world with limitless opportunities also pulls people here. I don’t think our deterrent to that desire should be abandoning what we have long stood for.

Decades of laws and policies have led to the immigration issues in the United States, and quite honestly the problem is too big and I’m too ignorant of all its facts and history to really know who is at fault for it. The vast majority of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, would need to admit that, too.

Like most complex issues, it would take a lot of study and there’d be hundreds of debatable points along the way in trying to determine where we went off of the rails in effective, wise and consistently executed immigration policies on the southern border.

But I don’t care what Jimmy Carter thought, what Ronald Reagan supported, or how Bill Clinton, either George Bush or Barack Obama handled things in their administrations. Whatever happened, happened.

I am not suggesting in any way that the way we go forward with immigration policies is obvious, or that it won’t be fraught with debate that impacts millions of Americans, aspiring Americans or businesses and consumers impacted by what happens when a real change is decidedly implemented.

What I will suggest, fervently, is that we have the power, as a nation, to treat people — even those who are attempting to circumvent or challenge our immigration laws — with a dignity that should not be restrained by what we are entitled to do — but should be guided by what we ought to do. Families should not be separated when it can be avoided.

We will always have disagreements in a Democratic society about the paths that should be taken. The frightened cries of a young child who knows little else about the world beyond the warmth of her mother’s touch or her father’s safe arms should not be among the ones up for debate.

If we can’t admit families into the country as units, we should work with Mexico to get them back across the border together. Not every country would make that a priority. The greatest one should.