The clashes of American values often bring out the worst in us

BY Bill Reagan

Today’s most controversial issues are found where American values bump into each other. DACA — Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals — is the perfect example. These young people are often called Dreamers. They want the American Dream just as much as any of us, maybe more. They have been raised in middle class neighborhoods, speak English as their first language, and gone to American universities. Many have served in the United States’ armed forces. They are Americans.


The Dreamers were not born here. They were brought here illegally, most by their parents.

What can be more American than a Dreamer?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus,

Bill Reagan

a poem found at the State of Liberty) Attorney General Sessions said that we simply cannot let everyone in who wants to come here. He’s right about that. The best solution would be to strengthen our ties with Mexico and Canada so that we could, like the European Union, eliminate our borders. But we have not reached that point. We have borders. Those borders have to mean something. We have to draw a line somewhere.

Congress could not find a solution for the dilemma of childhood arrivals, so President Obama acted. President Trump thinks Mr. Obama acted beyond the president’s constitutional authority. Maybe so. Now Congress will have to find a solution or President Trump will have to change his position. If not, or the Dreamers will not breathe free.

These clashes of American values often bring out the worst in us. They don’t have to.

The Framers wrote into the Constitution separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government and between the federal and state governments to force us to compromise on difficult issues. Compromise is messy. It never leaves everyone completely satisfied. And compromise will always be imperfect.

The 800,000 Dreamers represent the hope of America. Their aspirations for a better life and their contributions to American society are worth saving.

I say we draw the line. The best of our American character puts the Dreamers on our side of it.

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.