Adam Isacson

Still trying to understand Latin America, my own country, and why so few consequences are intended. These views are not necessarily my employer’s.

Why what’s happening in Honduras matters

State Department briefing: QUESTION: Honduras, please. MS NAUERT: Yes. QUESTION: Thank you. You guys haven’t really said much since the certification, and 14 people have been killed, and the violence continues, the elections results still not calculated. But your charge has been appearing in public with the government’s side and seems to have, in the eyes of many, taken the government’s side. Do you have anything to say about that? And you’re willing to criticize Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, but not Juan Orlando Hernandez, who’s been a good ally of the White House. MS NAUERT: Yeah, I -- QUESTION: There’s a lot of question about why you’ve not been more vocal about what’s going on in Honduras. MS NAUERT: I can tell you – well, first let me say I’m not aware of our charge’s schedule. So I don’t know and I can’t confirm if he had the -- QUESTION: She. MS NAUERT: -- she, pardon me; thank you – if she had the meetings or showed up at certain places that you mention. It’s obviously a post-election situation there. We know that monitors have covered it. The election observers are still evaluating that situation. So I think until we know more about the results of all that, we’re just going to refrain from commenting on it. QUESTION: Not about the violence or anything? MS NAUERT: Well, any time that there is violence from any side, we would always encourage people to not act violently. We would call for peaceful demonstrations, if people were to demonstrate; that is an area that is a huge concern of ours. But in terms of commenting on the elections and the results, we’re just going to hold off until we can get that better figured out. Okay?

What is even happening here?

(1,436 words, 5 minute 44 second reading time)

When I was in college in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was already studying and following the U.S. role in Latin America. Back then, at the sunset of the Cold War and the Reagan presidency, the deal was clear. If you were a dictator in the hemisphere, the United States would support you as long as you were pro-free market and U.S-friendly. There was a period during the Carter administration when that wasn’t as true, but the Reagan years made it truer than ever.

During the years I was in school, that started to become less of an iron law. In 1988, Washington urged Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to respect the result of the plebiscite that removed him from power. In 1989, U.S. troops kicked out Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega; while no big-stick invasion like this should ever be repeated, it was unusual to see the U.S. government act against a right-wing dictator—a former ally—after he denied an election result. The Clinton administration’s 1994 support for restoring deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was a remarkable shift, as the coup government was more pliant to U.S. business interests than was Aristide.

Pro-U.S. leaders with authoritarian tendencies or bad human rights records still got a pass, to a point (Fujimori in Peru, Uribe in Colombia). But for a good twenty-plus years in Latin America, Washington’s support wasn’t guaranteed.

It’s heartbreaking to see that changing, fast, in our new era of “illiberal democracies” (a category that may now include our own). Once elected, illiberal leaders make populist appeals while undoing institutional checks and balances. It becomes very hard to remove them from office, and after a while the democracy loses even its forms and people lose basic freedoms. We see these tendencies in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua (not to mention Turkey, Hungary, or the Philippines), but also among non-leftists like Juan Orlando Hernández in Honduras and candidates like Peru’s Keiko Fujimori and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

In June 2009, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe visited Washington. At the time, the ardently pro-U.S. leader was pushing hard to change Colombia’s constitution to allow him to pursue a third term in office, which would have disfigured the country’s democracy. By gently but firmly voicing disapproval at a White House appearance, President Barack Obama dealt a solid blow to Uribe’s aspirations. This was another milestone in the inconsistent, but real, trend of U.S. support for democracy over blind fealty.

It may have been its high-water mark, even: the trend was about to undergo a withering setback. Obama’s exchange with Uribe happened one day after a military-backed coup in Honduras deposed elected president Manuel Zelaya, the biggest single democratic reversal since the 2001 adoption of the OAS Democratic Charter. (Venezuela, too, suffered an unsuccessful coup against President Hugo Chávez in 2002, and a thousand tiny moves by Chávez himself to chip away at democracy. But the Honduran coup was a single, successful blow.)

President Obama opposed that coup for a few months. All U.S. security aid was cut off, though his administration would not trigger a law making the cutoff irreversible by calling it a “military” coup. By October 2009, though, his administration caved, saying it would respect the result of November elections that elected a Zelaya opponent who had backed the coup. This ended pressure for Zelaya’s removal and legitimized an election campaign carried out in a climate of post-coup fear and intimidation. The coup plotters won.

They won, to a significant degree, thanks to a well-funded lobbying campaign in Washington. Coup president Roberto Micheletti’s paid shills found a staunch ally in Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina). The archconservative senator put holds on two of the new administration’s diplomatic nominations, leaving it without an assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere or an ambassador to Brazil.

By 2016, Jim DeMint was elsewhere: he had left the Senate to become president of the Heritage Foundation, the giant conservative policy research organization that CNN and others called “Trump’s think tank.” The group DeMint headed (he left Heritage this year) drafted many of what would become the Trump administration’s policy proposals. In other words: the small but vocal sector of Washington that openly supported the 2009 Honduras coup is now running U.S. foreign policy.

Because of that, the idea of standing up to pro-U.S. authoritarians was already foundering after Trump’s inauguration. In May, Trump’s secretary of state even made explicit that human rights promotion is now a peripheral mission for U.S. foreign policy. “Those are our values. Those are not our policies,” Rex Tillerson told diplomats.

Right now, this reversal is reverberating through Washington’s tepid response to likely election fraud by a pro-U.S. illiberal leader in Honduras. Here are the facts:

  • After packing judicial and electoral bodies with supporters, President Juan Orlando Hernández achieved, in 2015, the right to run for re-election. This is what President Manuel Zelaya was deposed in 2009 for attempting. The Obama administration said little or nothing about this. Honduras is a major source of migration to the United States and transshipment point for cocaine—two phenomena that get worsened by political instability—and Hernández was going along with U.S. plans to address those issues.
  • Initial results of the November 26 election confounded pollsters’ expectations. The election authority, dominated by President Hernández’s party, showed the President losing to center-left challenger Salvador Nasralla by a 5-point margin with 70 percent of the vote counted.
  • Then, counting mysteriously stopped. In a move reminiscent of the PRI’s theft of Mexico’s 1988 presidential vote, electoral authorities blamed a computer glitch. When the count resumed, President Hernández had taken the lead. Credible media outlets reported evidence of vote-rigging.
  • OAS and European Union observer missions would not go along with this. They issued strong statements cautioning the electoral tribunal against announcing a result prematurely, citing “irregularities, errors and systemic problems,” refusing to certify the result without a thorough count, and even holding up the possibility of organizing new elections that might be viewed as legitimate.

The U.S. government has lagged far behind this, taking pains to avoid questioning what has happened since the vote. From a decimated State Department (there is no Senate-approved ambassador or assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere) have come tepid, anodyne, and infrequent statements. Officials have urged calm and called for protesters to avoid violence. They’ve counseled patience with the electoral authorities’ count, and simply encouraged the electoral authority to “address concerns.”

On Wednesday, 17 days after the disputed election, the State Department’s spokeswoman had been given nothing at all to say about Honduras. Not even realizing that U.S. chargé d’affaires Heide Fulton wasn’t a “he,” she told reporters, “In terms of commenting on the elections and the results, we’re just going to hold off until we can get that better figured out. Okay?” Sources in both Honduras and Washington tell me that U.S. diplomats, noting that protests have not been widespread enough to shut down the country, are quietly pushing for a solution that guarantees stability: one that ends the current uncertainty as quickly as possible and cements Hernández’s lead.

It’s shameful to see the U.S. government lagging so far behind the OAS and the European Union in defense of democracy in Latin America. Honduras is a small, poor country of minor strategic importance. But the historical significance is huge. This is a big and sad shift in U.S. policy.

The Trump administration’s silence encourages autocrats and “illiberal democrats” everywhere. The recipe is simple: if you plan to erode democracy, just make some pro-U.S. noises first. The silence also undermines the credibility of any U.S. criticism of adversarial dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela. Charges of a double standard will stick. It’s easy to brush off criticism from a Washington that picks and chooses which authoritarian behavior to oppose and which to ignore.

When I was in college, this was the accepted reality of U.S. policy toward Latin America. Since then, that reality had crumbled, haltingly giving way to something far better, and contributing to 25 years of increased political freedom in the Americas. It’s really upsetting that the U.S. performance in Honduras this month is taking me all the way back to my college years.

The day ahead: December 15, 2017

I’ll be sporadically available all day. (How to contact me)

At 11:00 I’ll be doing a Facebook Live discussion about the U.S.-Mexico border, the first time WOLA has attempted this format. There’s a lot to talk about, so do tune in if you’re able. I have a mid-afternoon meeting with a reporter, and at some point I need an hour or two to write and an hour to review where all my work stands. I’ll be most available when not doing those things, but it’s hard to predict when.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Pablo Jacob photo in O Globo (Brazil). Caption: “Equipamentos para uso de policiais lotados em UPPs são precários”

(Even more here)

December 14, 2017

Brazil

Se em 2017 a verba de manutenção das UPPs era de R$ 5,4 milhões, para o ano que vem as 38 unidades terão apenas R$ 10 mil. O total, irrisório, equivale a R$ 833 por mês ou R$21/mês para cada uma das UPPs

Colombia

In the river basins of the Bajo Atrato, the ethnic communities accompanied by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Cijp) have lost two of their most two emblematic leaders in the past 12 days

Entre 1998 y 2005, el 70 por ciento de sus habitantes huyó. Después de años de masacres y desapariciones, los sancarlitanos se enfrentan hoy a la reconciliación en tiempos de paz

Esa declaración de alias ‘Otoniel’ pretende ‘vender’ ante los colombianos la idea de que su organización criminal tiene bases políticas y por ello anuncia una especie de “tregua”

Ecuador

Se sustentó en la acusación de la Fiscalía respecto a que Glas recibió unos U$13,5 millones en sobornos por parte de Odebrecht para adjudicar contratos de obra

El Salvador

Durante el estudio, un dato sorprendió a Cruz: muchos pandilleros dijeron que querían dejar la mara. Aunque el experto no es optimista acerca de cómo los gobiernos de la región contrarrestan a estos grupos, cree que ese detalle es una luz al final del túnel

Guatemala, Mexico

The administration’s cynical calculus is that it is less burdensome to “keep them over there.” Yet Trump’s policies may be exacerbating the global refugee crisis and unwittingly bringing it to his doorstep

Honduras

When the presidential winner is announced, “there needs to be a big social pact, a national dialogue with outside mediation by an international actor”

The administration’s relative silence on last month’s disputed election in Honduras, where a right-wing incumbent and friend of the White House has been accused by opponents of stealing votes, is reminiscent of America’s ideologically driven Cold War policies

The question is whether the United States is willing to overlook a possibly fraudulent election

Mexico

The White House directed DHS to deny requested pay raises for DHS law enforcement officials in FY 2019

A USA TODAY NETWORK investigation found federal authorities largely fail to count border crossers when their remains are recovered by local authorities, and even local counts are often incomplete

“We are concerned that the bill gives the armed forces a leadership and coordination role in certain circumstances, rather than limiting their role to aiding and assisting civilian authorities,” the experts said

Despite the president’s request, the Senate will likely vote on the bill tomorrow and send it to the lower house of Congress for its final approval by the end of the current legislative session on Friday, December 15

“Las fuerzas armadas en nuestro país erradican más de 94% de los plantíos (de amapola), es una cifra importante que se ha compartido con las autoridades americanas”, dijo

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was scheduled to preside but went to lunch instead at the White House with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis

Western Hemisphere Regional

  • Julián Aguilar, Kiah Collier, T. Christian Miller, The Taking (ProPublica, December 14, 2017).

The federal government’s boldest land grab in a generation produced the first border wall — and a trail of abuse, mistakes and unfairness

The contract with a division of Accenture, an international professional services corporation with $35 billion in revenues in 2017, comes at a time when the Border Patrol is struggling to meet minimum staffing levels

The result to date has been a lopsided playing field, where China takes the lead, controls the cash and writes the contracts, many of which are leonine

New Report: Lessons from San Diego’s Border Wall

This is just a blurb. The full report is here: HTML / PDF. I set about writing it at the beginning of the month after we returned from our Texas border trip. This was meant to be just a quick memo about the border-wall prototypes that got built outside San Diego, but blossomed into a full-scale report about the current state of the border in that area.

Border wall prototypes under construction at a CBP site near San Diego, October 21, 2017. (Credit: Mani Albrecht, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs Visual Communications Division)

Right now, on a site near existing border wall outside San Diego, California, eight concrete-and-metal slabs sit awaiting judgment. They are prototypes for the Trump administration’s vision for a border wall that could cost between US$20 billion and US$60 billion to build.

In a new report (HTML / PDF), the Washington Office on Latin America points out that the section of the border where the prototypes sit—Customs and Border Protection’s San Diego sector—is a perfect example of how limited walls, fences, and barriers can be. This sector has 60 miles of border, and 46 of them are already fenced off.

Here, fence-building has revealed a new set of border challenges that a wall can’t fix. The San Diego sector shows that:

  • Fences or walls can reduce migration in urban areas, but make no difference in rural areas. In densely populated border areas, border-crossers can quickly mix in to the population. But nearly all densely populated sections of the U.S.-Mexico border have long since been walled off. In rural areas, where crossers must travel miles of terrain, having to climb a wall first is not much of a deterrent. A wall would be a waste of scarce budget resources.
  • People who seek protected status aren’t deterred by walls. Some asylum-seekers even climbed existing fence at the prototype site while construction was occurring. In San Diego, they include growing numbers of Central American children and families. Last year in the sector, arrivals included thousands of Haitians who journeyed from Brazil, many of whom now live in Tijuana. The presence or absence of a fence made no difference in their decision to seek out U.S. authorities to petition for protection.
  • Fences are irrelevant to drug flows. Of all nine border sectors, San Diego leads in seizures of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and probably fentanyl. Authorities find the vast majority of these drugs at legal border crossings—not in the spaces between where walls would be built. Interdicting more drugs at the border would require generous investment in modern, well-staffed ports of entry—but instead, the Trump administration is asking Congress to pay for a wall.

The border doesn’t need a wall. It needs better-equipped ports of entry, investigative capacity, technology, and far more ability to deal with humanitarian flows. In its current form, the 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill is pursuing a wrong and wasteful approach. The experience of San Diego makes that clear.

Read the report: HTML / PDF.

The day ahead: December 14, 2017

I’ll be most available mid-morning and mid-afternoon. (How to contact me)

After two solid days of “off-campus” meetings around Washington, I’ll be back in the office today. I’ve got an internal meeting, a mid-day discussion about Colombia, and a late-afternoon visit from a Mexico-based journalist. In between, I’ll be launching a mid-sized (4,000-word) report on border security, and catching up on correspondence and small tasks accumulated since Monday.

The day ahead: December 13, 2017

I’ll be very hard to reach today. (How to contact me)

I’ll be out of the office and away from a keyboard all day today. There’s an NGO human rights roundtable with U.S. Southern Command in the morning and an NGO Colombia human rights consultation with the State Department in the afternoon. While at State, I’ll also drop in on an official who works on Central America. This all means not much access to my phone or computer, so this site won’t get updated.

What 2017’s Migration Statistics Tell Us About Border Security

Cross-posted from wola.org. 1,045 words (4 min, 21 sec read).

Last week, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released new information telling us what happened at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2017. The data came in two reports: new statistics about apprehensions of migrants, and CBP’s annual Border Security Report.

This information, plus an annual DEA “threat assessment” report released in October, tells us four things that matter greatly for Congress as it considers the 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. That bill would build 74 miles of border wall for $1.6 billion, while adding 500 Border Patrol agents and 1,000 ICE agents.

  1. The president’s promises of a crackdown accelerated a decline in cross-border migration that’s been happening since the beginning of the 21st century.

Border Patrol apprehended 303,916 undocumented migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2017. That was the lowest annual total since 1972. This is part of a long-term trend of declining apprehensions at the border. In 13 of the last 16 years (and 9 of the last 10), the annual number of migrants apprehended by Border Patrol has consistently ranked lower than the previous three-year average. And according to CBP’s best estimates, the number of migrants who evade apprehension has also been shrinking.

This year saw 26 percent fewer migrants than 2016. The drop began after Donald Trump’s inauguration: February, March, and April saw the fewest monthly apprehensions since at least 2000, when Border Patrol makes monthly records available, and probably since the 1970s.

Analysts have called this the “Trump effect.” Word of mouth about aggressive enforcement and terrorized communities traveled fast. For a few months, smugglers went into “wait and see mode.” Migrants “don’t understand…what’s going on right now in terms of the enforcement and what we’re doing on the border,” then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in May. “That’s caused them to delay their departure, if you will.”

  1. People who fear for their lives will keep coming. Central America is producing large numbers of such people.

After April 2017, monthly totals of migrant apprehensions stopped dropping. Though the “Trump effect” hasn’t totally faded, the number of apprehensions in September 2017 resembles the number in September 2014, and may continue to increase. WOLA saw over 100 children and families arriving on a late November evening in south Texas’ Rio Grande Valley sector. Migrant smugglers haven’t gone out of business, and fear continues to drive people from Central America.

The profile of migration has changed. Of those apprehended in 2017, an unprecedented 39 percent were children and members of family units, up from less than 2 percent between 2003 and 2009. The vast majority of these kids and families were from Central America’s three “Northern Triangle” countries, and most were asking U.S. authorities for protection from threats back home.

Statistics from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are stark: they report a 20 percent increase in citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras requesting asylum at the border in 2017, compared to 2016. In a year that saw a one-quarter overall drop in migrants, more Central Americans came to request asylum.

Violent crime remains severe in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which had the second, fourth, and seventeenth highest murder rates on earth in 2016. Gangs continue to threaten tens of thousands. Political turmoil, corruption scandals, and human rights crimes intensified in 2017, reducing hope that next year might see improvements.

Central Americans will continue to come to the United States seeking protection next year, no matter what tough measures are in the Homeland Security bill. Instead, legislation should include more resources to process and adjudicate their claims.

  1. Border Patrol agents have less to do. Hiring 5,000 more is harder to justify.

The average Border Patrol agent apprehended 18 migrants this year—one every 20 days, tying a low set in 2011. But unlike in 2011, 39 percent were kids and families. Agents are spending much of their time processing and caring for that population.

With 19,437 agents at the end of fiscal year 2017, Border Patrol staffing shrank for the sixth straight year. This is not due to budget cuts: with 65 percent of applicants failing polygraph tests (nearly double the average for law enforcement agencies), the force has had difficulty replacing those who leave.

The White House has called for hiring 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, starting with 500 in the 2018 Homeland Security Appropriation. Rather than growth at a time of vastly reduced migration, the agency should focus on meeting its funded target: that is, hiring approximately 1,600 additional agents to meet the goal of 21,070 agents total. This can only happen if Border Patrol uses  improved screening capacity to speed up the hiring process,while keeping the past few years’ tough screening standards in place.

  1. DEA drug seizure numbers show the importance of ports of entry for drug trafficking groups.

Data on border drug seizures take a while to become public. The Drug Enforcement Administration publicly reported 2016 seizure data in October of this year. It found big increases in border-area seizures of all drugs except cannabis.

This is a problem—but it isn’t a wall-building or Border Patrol issue. As the DEA report explains, all drugs except cannabis primarily cross the border through ports of entry: the legal border crossings. Much less heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, or fentanyl crosses through the rural, isolated areas  between the ports of entry, which is where the White House proposes to build costly walls.

The ports of entry are beleaguered. Wait times are long. The CBP estimates at least another 2,000 officers are needed to best handle the workload at these crossings. Facilities need $5 billion in improvements. Why, then, did the White House’s 2018 budget request specify no increased funding for ports of entry?

In conclusion…

The 2017 numbers are indicative of vastly reduced migration, much greater numbers of children and families requesting protection, and the growing challenge of detecting drug smuggling at ports of entry. None of these trends call for solutions like the building of walls or the hiring of additional Border Patrol agents. Data from the border does not support the new border security measures in the 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The problems revealed by these statistics demand a different, smarter approach.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Rebecca Blackwell/AP photo at The Washington Post. Caption: “Mexican soldiers look up toward the president as they ride past the National Palace on Sept. 16, 2016, during the annual Independence Day military parade in Mexico City’s main square, known as the Zocalo.”

(Even more here)

December 11, 2017

Brazil, Venezuela

With limited infrastructure, social services and jobs to offer migrants, Brazilian authorities fear a full-fledged humanitarian crisis

Colombia

Así, inventando fuentes inexistentes, algunos oficiales consiguieron millonarios recursos

Según la Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, el asesinato hace parte de la operación “Septiembre Negro” de la brigada 17 y las estructuras armadas paramilitares de las AUC

El equipo negociador que designe Santos será fundamentalmente de transición

El enfrentamiento tiene lugar en el municipio de Carmen del Darién, en el departamento de Chocó, y se desarrolla actualmente

Honduras

Protesters also linked their struggle to U.S. border security and immigration concerns, saying the spike in U.S.-bound migration since 2014 can be blamed on violence and impunity perpetuated by the Hernández administration and his National Party

“They know I won the election but they won’t accept it because they are afraid that my government will be a leftist one”

Honduras, Venezuela

To be credible, the Trump administration should understand that there is no such thing as a “good” dictator

Mexico

The bill’s opponents also have assailed what they call its vagueness and the possibility that it will result in a lack of transparency about military operations

Emilio Gutierrez, 54, who in October received a press freedom award from the National Press Club in Washington, said he and his 24-year-old son, Oscar, were taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Thursday

Puerto Rico

A review by The New York Times of daily mortality data from Puerto Rico’s vital statistics bureau indicates a significantly higher death toll

Venezuela

President Nicolás Maduro said his party won more than 300 of the country’s 335 counties, tightening his grip on Venezuela

Opposition leaders argued that participation in Sunday’s voting would have served only to legitimize Mr. Maduro’s administration

Western Hemisphere Regional

he Texas Highway Patrol, part of the state’s Department of Public Safety, or DPS, has developed a well-oiled deportation machine that scoops up drivers who’ve committed minor traffic infractions

The bigger question for the public is if the agents’ exaggerations in the Tadeo incident were an exception, or if the surging number of reported assaults on CBP officers stem from similar embellishments

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Monday, December 11, 2017

  • 9:00-10:30 at the Inter-American Dialogue: China’s Belt and Road: What Role for Latin America? (RSVP required).
  • 10:00-11:30 at CSIS: Beyond Trade: The Costs and Consequences of Exiting NAFTA (RSVP required).
  • 2:00-3:00 at the Council of the Americas: Fighting Corruption in the Western Hemisphere (RSVP required).

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

  • 8:00-10:00 at the Wilson Center: North American Competitiveness and the Future of the NAFTA (RSVP required).
  • 10:30-11:30 at Room 2456, Rayburn House Office Building: Tackling Emerging Global Challenges in Mexico’s 2018 Elections: Cybersecurity, Disillusionment and Disinformation (RSVP required).
  • 2:00 at Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building: Hearing on The Future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (RSVP required).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

  • 3:00-5:00 at the Wilson Center: Is Brazil’s Electronic Voting System Safe from Fraud and Manipulation? (RSVP required).

Thursday, December 14, 2017

  • 9:30-11:00 at the Inter-American Dialogue: Peruvian Politics Under Strain (RSVP required).
  • 12:30-1:30 at WOLA: Securing Peace: Colombia’s ELN Peace Talks (RSVP required).

Friday, December 15, 2017

  • 9:00-10:30 at the Inter-American Dialogue: The Trump Administration, Latin America & Energy: Mexico, Natural Gas & LNG Exports (RSVP required).

The day ahead: December 11, 2017

I’ll be somewhat available, but trying to write, in the mid- and late afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got over 22 hours of meetings already on my schedule this week, and 4 1/2 of them are today. I’ll be in a Skype interview with some European investigators, a weekly staff meeting, a call with WOLA supporters to talk border security, and a few check-ins with colleagues.

I should be back in my chair by perhaps 2:00, at which point I’ll be racing to catch up on news and inboxes while writing a memo to Congress about border security.

The week ahead

It’s hard to believe there’s only two more weeks to go before the holidays effectively end 2017. (And, perhaps, before the federal government shuts down for lack of a budget deal—the current deadline is December 22.) I’ll be out visiting family between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so this is my second-to-last week of the year.

I’ll be spending it here in Washington, but with a very full schedule. Tuesday is an all-day human rights conference hosted by U.S. Southern Command. Wednesday is two NGO human rights “roundtables” with the federal government: one in the morning with Southcom, and one on Colombia in the afternoon with the State Department. There are several other meetings and events scattered across my calendar.

When not at those, I’ll be grabbing all available moments to:

  • Release a new report about the U.S. border at San Diego-Tijuana, where big challenges persist that cannot be solved by “the wall.”
  • Complete and distribute a shorter memo to Congress on the migration numbers that came out last week.
  • Make updates to our “tracker” of border and migration legislation.
  • Continue steady work on a big report on post-conflict Colombia.
  • Keep updating our database of military aid programs to reflect changes wrought by the new Defense Department authorization law.
  • Add a few posts to this site.
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