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Looks like the border is about to "open" again. Good luck Joe.

It’s Joe Biden’s Border Now

The fight over Title 42 encapsulates all the dysfunctions of immigration policy.

William McGurn, WSJ

Dec. 26, 2022 3:17 pm ET

The border will soon be open.

Everyone understands this, including the would-be migrants massed along the Rio Grande and the already overwhelmed border communities such as El Paso, Texas. They are awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on Title 42, a power used to expel migrants who have entered unlawfully before they apply for asylum. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has signaled Title 42 is on its way out.

In one sense, Title 42 perfectly encapsulates all the dysfunction of America’s immigration regime. Named for a section of the U.S. code that deals with stopping the spread of communicable disease, it has been used since a March 2020 directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat Covid by turning back people at the border—not the first time public health has been invoked to enhance government power. Until November, that is, when federal judge Emmet Sullivan ordered it ended and 19 Republican state attorneys general asked the Supreme Court to step in.

In her brief to the Court, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar acknowledged that lifting Title 42 would cause “disruption” and lead to at least a “temporary increase” in illegal border crossings. But the solution, she said, “cannot be to extend indefinitely a public-health measure that all now acknowledge has outlived its public-health justification.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) was likewise blunt in defending a Title 42 amendment he unsuccessfully proposed for the $1.7 trillion omnibus that passed before Christmas. “Title 42 is the one thing standing between us and utter chaos,” Mr. Lee told Fox News.

Mr. Lee and Ms. Prelogar are both right. Which only underscores the incoherence.

Ultimately, immigration is the responsibility of Congress, and the dysfunctions now on view daily at our southern border—legal, political, humanitarian—owe themselves to the repeated failure of our legislators to put a responsible immigration infrastructure in place.

But Congress doesn’t really lead. A president does. In his zeal to do the opposite of everything Donald Trump did, President Biden quickly transformed the border into a full-fledged crisis. One example of something he threw out while putting nothing in its place: the remain in Mexico policy, which sent asylum seekers who’d unlawfully entered the U.S. back to Mexico while they waited for their asylum hearings.

But Mr. Biden’s border difficulty isn’t that he can’t get his agenda through. His problem is he has no agenda. The administration’s argument to the Supreme Court was that it wants Title 42 gone—just not yet. The whole thing is a fraud, driven home to the American people every time they hear White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre cheerily assert that the border isn’t open when everyone in the world, especially the thousands crossing each day, can see that it is.

The incoming Republican House knows Democrats in general and Mr. Biden in particular are vulnerable here—especially with Latinos and local Democratic officials along the border like the mayor of El Paso, who is begging the administration to do something. Ideally, Republicans would propose a serious immigration bill along the general lines of the compromise measure Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) were trying to cobble together before Christmas. But probably most Republicans don’t see it in their interests to lead with a compromise now.

This creates an opening for Mr. Biden, though he gives no sign he’ll take it. For now he appears content to pretend the debacle at the border doesn’t exist and count on his main constituency—the Beltway press corps—not to bring him back to reality with awkward questions.

Still, Mr. Biden styles himself a transformational president. His best shot here would be a bipartisan immigration deal that eluded both his Republican and Democratic predecessors. This would require identifying his priorities (e.g., resolving the legal status of the two million so-called Dreamers, people who were brought here as children), making Republicans an offer they would have a hard time refusing—and then going on to sell it to Congress and the American people.

Mr. Biden, alas, shows little sign he is capable of such presidential leadership. For one thing, he would have to offer Republicans something real. Border security was conspicuously absent from the immigration reform he unveiled at the outset of his term, reducing the proposal to cheap virtue-signaling.

Selling a deal would also challenge Mr. Biden. Recently he’s treated prime-time presidential addresses to the nation as opportunities to take swipes at his predecessor or characterize anyone who disagrees with him as morally defective. But were he for once able to rise above himself, he would win whatever the outcome: Either he would succeed in getting an immigration reform where his predecessors failed, or he would win politically by showing that Republicans are the obstacle to improving security at the border.

The biggest obstacle? Joe Biden himself.

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