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Updated: January 2, 2023 @ 1:23 pm
Editorials represent the institutional view of the newspaper. They are written and edited by the editorial staff, which operates separately from the news department. Editorial writers are not involved in newsroom operations.
Migrants cross the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Dec. 19. 
Migrants gather at a crossing into El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Tensions remained high at the U.S-Mexico border this week amid uncertainty over the future of restrictions on asylum-seekers. 
Migrants cross the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Dec. 19. 
Migrants gather at a crossing into El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Tensions remained high at the U.S-Mexico border this week amid uncertainty over the future of restrictions on asylum-seekers. 
The legal controversy over Title 42 and the ongoing mess at the southern border illustrate a broader problem — the failure of Congress to deal with comprehensive immigration reform. That inaction has led to a dysfunctional system that must change to solve a long-standing problem that worsens by the day.
Unfortunately, our elected representatives too often use immigration for cynical political grandstanding when they should be focused on solutions that serve the needs of our country, its citizens and migrants who seek a better life here. People on all sides of the issue have legitimate reasons to be frustrated and angry about the border and the lack of progress on fixing the problem.
The number of people illegally flowing over the southern border has pushed the problem into crisis territory. More than 2.2 million migrants were apprehended by border agents in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1. No one is certain how many managed to evade authorities, but some estimates are in the tens of thousands. Hundreds more men, women and children died trying to cross illegally.
Many migrants are fleeing dire conditions in their home countries and pursuing the promise of a new start in America, just as people across the world have done since the birth of our nation. But the reality is that we can’t simply throw open the doors to anyone who wants in. The United States must have a safe and secure border.
Our needs also extend beyond a temporary fix. Congress must reform the entire immigration system, making a broken process reasonable, practical and eventually helpful to our country’s economy and security. That task includes untangling the current chaos, making the border more secure and addressing the issue of millions of migrants already here illegally.
The controversial Title 42 border policy was designed to help restrict the flow of immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that public health rationale has faded.
This use of Title 42 was to expire this week, but in a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a lower court order that would have ended the restrictions. The high court will hear oral arguments on the case in February with a final decision likely coming in June.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Trump administration invoked Title 42 in March 2020, and that policy has remained in effect during the Biden administration. That’s another problem with the order: The CDC shouldn’t be used as an instrument to control border policy while our elected officials fail to come up with an adequate plan to handle the immediate crisis and to take action on comprehensive immigration reforms.
Ending the Title 42 restrictions surely would mean an even greater influx of migrants at the already-overwhelmed border. On that point most everyone agrees. It’s the argument used by the states that sought the emergency stay this week to keep Title 42 in place, and the Biden administration agreed with that assessment even as it has sought to end the policy.
But Justice Neil Gorsuch, the lone conservative who sided with the liberal minority against allowing Title 42 to remain in effect, also made a key point that it’s not the court’s role to correct policy failures.
“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,” Justice Gorsuch wrote in a dissenting opinion. “We are a court of law, not policymakers of last resort.”
We urge our elected representatives to stop ceding their policymaking authority on immigration and other issues to agencies and administrators. Passing off its responsibilities allows Congress to avoid doing the hard work on policy while politicizing problems, with few consequences.
Our elected representatives and everyday Americans also need to be honest about our economy’s dependence on immigrant labor and develop a system that meets those needs while helping those who come to this country to build a better life. We need to use modern technology to better secure our long southern border, increase the number of immigration judges hearing asylum cases and settle on a way to handle undocumented immigrants who work and pay taxes in the United States.
And, we all need to decide if we truly want to uphold the ideal of America as a place of safety and refuge for immigrants and refugees. We haven’t always lived up to that lofty aspiration, and immigration has become a source of growing tension amid rapid changes in our country and the rest of the world. But the relentless pressure at the southern border shows that people continue to see the United States as a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom, a place that some are willing to risk their lives to reach.
The border problem isn’t going away, regardless of what eventually happens with Title 42. It could even worsen. We urge Congress to heed this newest wake-up call and address our immediate problems at the border by passing meaningful immigration reform.

We welcomed the S.C. Department of Transportation’s safety audits to examine the state’s 10 most dangerous streets for pedestrians, half of which are in Charleston County, including King, Meeting, St. Philip and Calhoun streets in downtown Charleston. Now that those audits are completed and … Read moreEditorial: Let’s be smart about making King Street safer for pedestrians and cyclists
Today, we turn the page on our calendars, looking ahead to a new year with clear-eyed concerns about the major challenges we face as a state and nation but an enduring belief that we will be able to rise to meet them. Read moreEditorial: Our hopes and aspirations for South Carolina in the new year
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