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New year, new chance to fix the border


Ever true to its traditions, Official Washington has celebrated its holidays by toasting its successes, and then cruising comfortably into yet another new year.

So this is the right time to remind our capital’s cognoscenti that some areas of Washington governance can and must do better in 2023.

In the last week of 2022, we received some genuinely helpful wisdom from the highest perch of the most judiciously restrained of government’s three branches — the Supreme Court. It came in a dissenting opinion to the court’s conservative majority ruling on a case about America’s growing crisis at the southern border.

Last week, the Supreme Court blocked a plan of President Joe Biden’s administration to end the Trump’s administration’s so-called Title 42 rule that has been permitting the rapid expulsion of migrants without allowing their asylum requests to be processed. Trump’s Title 42 was controversial because it used concerns about spreading COVID-19 as the basis for immediately expelling the migrants. The Court’s conservative majority agreed with Republican officials in 19 states who argued Biden’s ending of Title 42 would trigger a massive surge of migrants that would overrun U.S. capabilities at the southern border.

But that court ruling was pointedly challenged by a most unlikely source — Justice Neil Gorsuch, a staunch conservative appointed by President Donald Trump. Gorsuch joined the court’s three liberal jurists in dissenting.

“The current border crisis is not a COVID crisis,” Gorsuch wrote. “And courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency. We are a court of law, not policymakers of last resort.”

Gorsuch’s point here was that the executive and legislative branches had failed to find workable fixes for the growing immigration crisis.

Go to the website of the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with securing our borders. Sadly, you will see no signs of creative crisis-fixing leadership from Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas.

When President Biden tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with leading efforts to solve the migrant crisis, I had hoped this would become her signature achievement. But we’ve seen no evidence of significant accomplishment.

So let’s solve the problem now: Let President Biden start 2023 by convening a televised White House summit of Central American officials and congressional leaders of both parties. There, Biden will announce that from now on, the No. 1 way migrants will be granted U.S. asylum — and work permits — will be in highly visible lines at each U.S. embassy or at special ad hoc U.S. consulates in every Latin American nation. Migrants who are terrified by gang violence and fleeing in fear will be processed at a new asylum center to be established in Mexico.

Let the Biden White House make solving this solvable border crisis its most prominent New Year’s resolution.

Tribune News Service




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