We’re the land of the free. Are we still a beacon of hope?

Photo by U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Above all else, I’m proud to be an American — and I’m the first to say that I’ve been well served by the America I served for 20 years in the Army.

I’ll also be the first to celebrate the many mantles of leadership America has assumed over the last 200+ years.

But we’re losing ground. The independence our founders prioritized, the ownership we each hold in our still young democracy’s remarkable influence over our entire planet, is compromised and diminished every day.

And it’s too easy to identify the current president as the problem. The White House is only a fraction of government and has only recently become the liability we see growing on a daily basis.

On a recent fact-finding mission to the U.S.-Mexico border, I was heartbroken that the stories of new immigrants are often much worse than we’ve heard. Along with a group of fellow veterans, I travelled to El Paso and Juarez to see the situation firsthand and meet the families that are being ripped apart on our border.

The crisis we hear about every day— and it is a crisis — should be viewed as a turning point of what we expect from our elected representatives. In my view, it’s difficult to point to anyone on the border — community leaders, immigrants, militia and activists, to name a few — as being at fault.

The fault lies squarely with the United States Congress. For over 40 years, Congress has ignored, or worse, held hostage, practical discussions on developing our workforce, providing a legal framework for new citizens and, of paramount importance, slowing the southbound flood of U.S. money enabling the narco-terrorists and regional control that any of us should be horrified to support.

While I am appalled at the clear connection between the current crisis and the lack of leadership over the last 40 years — on all sides — in Washington, I am encouraged by the hope that America still offers these men, women and families. They come seeking freedom — to work, to contribute and to find safer better lives.

Although their immigration stories echo those of our own ancestors, they are receiving a much different reception. To these aspiring Americans, these trials are only worth undertaking because the prospect of returning to the documented horrors they are fleeing are much worse.

I look forward to the time when a regular trip to the state’s border with Mexico allows us to greet the next generation of America’s success story. ​Working together — across the aisle in Washington and across the street at home — I believe we can maintain our shared values and find a solution through compassion, hard work and commitment to expand opportunity for everyone in our country.

Joseph Kopser has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Joseph Kopser

Co-founder and CEO, USTomorrow