America has a problem. Something I would never have considered a problem previously, and that most people would not consider a problem ever. It can be summed up in one word.
You are a loving and generous people, in the main. You don't just live and let live, you bake a cake for the people who have just moved in down the street, people you don't know. It is noble. Admirable. And it's going to kill you if you let it.
Take immigration. Legal immigration, for the moment please. You will literally take in anyone capable of filling in the paperwork. People that turn a bath tub into a boat to escape a repressive regime are welcomed. Maybe not with open arms, but welcomed they are. Since your very founding, that has been the core strength of America. Cultures are a lot like animals. Keep inbreeding them too long and you start getting defects. An easily displaced hip here, a two headed calf there and eventually you wind up with pugs. Cute and charming, but often can't breathe without surgery and can blow an eyeball out if they so much as sneeze. Not good for an animal, less good for an entire country.
Historically, hybrid vigor was maintained by wandering off to distant corners of the globe and claiming random countries. You might not get a huge influx of people, but you would get an influx of ideas. Cultural traits. Food - the most popular dish in the UK is not native. It is curry, and the sides are a huge discussion point if you have the bad luck to be in the pub Friday night.
The USA didn't need to do that. You did not go to other cultures. They came to you. Mingled. Made the rich stew you don't even think about because you were brought up in it. Deep down, you all know it. Americans - from the West Coast to the East Coast, the Gulf to the 49th Parallel are the friendliest and nicest people you could meet. I include New Yorkers in that. They have a rep, sure, but show up with a non-US accent and they are kind and polite.
Which brings us to the problem. You are too nice.
Take the two biggest points in the USA right now. Amnesty and the "War on Terror." Both of them boil down to the same thing, irrespective if you are left or right, black or white. You guys like to be liked. Being able to get a burrito at 3 AM is a bonus.
The "War on Terror" goes first, and yes it keeps it's scare quotes. That's just good writing technique. Somewhere in the 40's, American woke up one morning and realized they were in a pretty good position. Heavily industrialized. A large population. A huge landmass with massive natural resources. Time to stretch your wings and make an empire, right? Oops - no can do. Everything is claimed or an independent nation. It's a mild problem. Invade Canada? That didn't exactly go well last time. Invade Mexico? Why? So, you became the world's policeman. No disrespect - you did a damned fine job of it and still do. You beat the hell out of communism, gave a small hand in dealing with a little war in Europe (like I am going to say any different) and got called in to various hot spots around the globe. You were literally the rooster on top of the dung heap that we call international relations. You forgot. Sometimes, it rains and the dung heap collapses. If you look at the RoE for the current Afghanistan campaign, you might notice a small problem. Pages upon pages of conditional rules. Previous empires are laughing at you here. They'd send an army out with a five word RoE. "Kill them. Return home." The fifth word was the officers name.
I get you guys don't want to be an empire. That is admirable. But the fact of the matter is - you already are and have been for quite some time. So start behaving like one.
Illegal Immigration is a different kettle of fish. You are well known as the Land of Opportunity. For foreigners trying to get in, you are also The Land of the Fee and the Home of the Knave. It's no wonder people want to save a bit of cash. Pay $25,000 to be legal? Or pay $4000 to be smuggled across the border? Not exactly a difficult choice. But, they are illegal. Have zero right to be in the country, have zero right to any benefits, either state or federal.
This is where the compassion comes in, in a limited form. You catch an illegal. Been in the country 10 years (hey, those donuts don't eat themselves, cops got priorities) and has 4 kids. All under 10. All not US citizens, if you wish to be firm about it, but it is the only life and culture they know. What you going to do? Send them to a country totally foreign to them? Stick them in a very dysfunctional foster care system? Hope like hell they can be adopted? Or turn their Mom and Dad loose again, winking at their law breaking.
I don't know the answers.
I'd like to see the US toughen up. Yet that would take something magical out of the world.
Thank you for reading.