Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

March 2019

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Monday, April 1

  • 2:00–3:00 at the Wilson Center: A Conversation with Congressman Michael McCaul (RSVP required).
  • 3:00–4:30 at WOLA: Violence, Crime, and Governance in Colombia’s Borderlands (RSVP required).

Tuesday, April 2

  • 8:30–9:30 at the Wilson Center: Strengthening Counter-Narcotics Cooperation with Mexico and Central America: A Conversation with Senator John Cornyn (RSVP required).

Thursday, April 4

Friday, April 5

Saturday, April 6

Can Trump really stop all aid to Central America? Yes, but not really.

The New York Times reports:

The State Department issued a statement late on Friday saying: “At the secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the president’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle. We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”

I’m not a lawyer, and not a foreign aid appropriator. I’ve asked a couple of people, but don’t know if I’ll get responses over the weekend. If I do, I’ll edit this post if necessary in blue text. But here’s why I don’t think President Trump’s “canceling” of aid to Central America’s Northern Triangle will succeed, except perhaps during the remainder of this fiscal year. It may be up to the judicial branch to sort this out.

1. The Constitution gives Congress “the power of the purse.”

Appropriations aren’t just suggestions. When Congress has specifically appropriated aid to a country, foreign aid law provides specific reasons why it can be canceled. These include military coups, gross human rights violations, drug decertifications, and others. “The president’s mad” isn’t one of those reasons.

Giving money that was prohibited from being appropriated was at the heart of the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s. Not giving money that was specifically appropriated? Similar, with some exceptions noted below.

2. The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 specifically prohibits the president from withholding appropriated funds.

Under this law, rescinding funds requires congressional approval. Wikipedia explains: “The Act was passed in response to feelings in Congress that President Nixon was abusing his power of impoundment by withholding funding of programs he opposed.” Sound familiar?

3. Trump could abuse his reprogramming authority, but it would cost him.

Here’s where it gets tricker. What if the White House proposes not to withhold money, but to transfer the Central America aid to another country? There must still be nearly a billion dollars in the pipeline for 2017 and 2018. What if Trump wants to give it to, say, Israel instead?

He can do that—but there will be consequences. Section 634A of the Foreign Assistance Act only requires that Congress be notified in detail of any “reprogramming” of assistance, 15 days in advance.

But the president would pay a huge price if the reprogramming were to happen despite congressional opposition. Under longstanding custom, if the chairman of the responsible congressional committee receiving the notification disagrees with it, he/she can place a “hold” on it and keep it from happening. Negotiations usually ensue. If the president ignores the hold, it’s assumed that the committee chairman would retaliate against the president’s priorities in the next year’s funding bill. The “notification” requirement has teeth because you don’t want to piss off appropriators or authorizers who have power over your budget.

A similar episode is happening right now with the House defense committees. They were notified this week of a reprogramming of $1 billion from Defense Department personnel accounts into the Defense counter-drug account, which allows spending on barriers—Trump’s “border wall”—for counter-drug purposes. House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) responded to the notification with a letter refusing the reprogramming. Smith probably doesn’t have the power to do that, but the Pentagon may pay a big price in future budgets for defying him.

These two cases of massive reprogrammings in the face of strong congressional opposition are setting us up for a constitutional crisis. Why bother having an appropriations process at all if the executive branch can just go ahead and defy it anytime it wants by checking a “notification” box?

4. There’s some fuzzy “up to” language in the appropriation.

A potential minefield is in the 2018 appropriations law, which tells the State Department that “up to $615,000,000 may be made available for assistance for countries in Central America.” That “up to” language could be a problem: isn’t “zero dollars” technically an amount “up to $615 million?” But probably not, because of the next point.

5. But Central America aid must be spent as laid out in the bill’s report language.

The foreign aid bill comes with an explanatory statement that, for some countries, includes a table specifying exactly, line by line, how Congress intends the aid money to be spent for that country. Every year’s foreign aid appropriation law has included such a table for Central America in its explanatory statement.

Section 7019 of the 2018 foreign aid bill states plainly, “funds appropriated by this Act under titles III through V shall be made available in the amounts specifically designated in the respective tables included in the explanatory statement.” So never mind the “up to” language: Congress has required Central America to get specific amounts of funds according to a line-by-line table.

However: subsection (b) of Section 7019 does allow “deviations” from that table. But only “to respond to significant, exigent, or unforeseen events, or to address other exceptional circumstances directly related to the national interest.” The White House could seek to drive through that loophole by claiming that an “exceptional circumstance” calls for moving all aid away from Central America. However, 7019(b) also requires “prior consultation with, and the regular notification procedures of, the Committees on Appropriations” before any “deviation.” Consultation is more than just notification, so using the 7019(b) loophole would involve a big battle between the Trump administration and appropriators.

6. Some government-to-government aid could be reprogrammed through “decertification.”

The aid for the central governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras came with conditions. 25 percent of it stays “in the freezer” until the Secretary of State certifies that those countries are doing more to discourage migration and combat smuggling. Another 50 percent is held up until the Secretary certifies that those countries are making improvements on twelve measures regarding human rights, citizen security, anti-corruption, and similar values.

If those countries are determined not to be making progress, that 75 percent can be reprogrammed away to other countries.

Note, though, that this condition only applies to aid to the central governments of those countries. Aid to provincial or municipal governments, judicial branches, or non-governmental entities is not affected by this certification requirement. So this is probably not the vehicle the administration would choose if it wants to attempt a total cutoff of aid to Central America.

It’s going to be a battle.

No matter what, it could take a few months for Congress—and who knows, maybe the courts—to resolve this. In the meantime, if you’re Russia or China, or even Iran, and you want to spend a little money filling a vacuum of diplomatic and economic engagement deep in the United States’ backyard, then this is your moment to write some checks and strike up some new relationships.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Christ Chavez / Getty Images photo at NBC News. Caption: “A group of 22 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and Salvador await processing underneath the Paso Del Norte Bridge on March 28, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has temporarily closed all highway checkpoints along the 268-mile stretch of border in the El Paso sector to try to stem a surge in illegal entry.”

(Even more here)

March 29, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

The Pentagon notified Congress Monday night that it authorized the reallocation of $1 billion in department funding to be used for new wall construction — but at the same time, it is seeking additional funding from Congress for what it calls “underfunded priorities”

It’s an unprecedented tactic to notify Congress about moving the money around, rather than request the transfer. The decision will likely cost the Pentagon its ability to “reprogram” money in the years ahead

If current trends hold, referrals of unaccompanied children to HHS could surpass the record 2016 figures, when 59,171 minors were referred for care

The commissioner mentioned yesterday that 100,000 people had been taken into custody this month. I could easily see that doubling or tripling in coming months

The 2019 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is an annual report by the Department of State to Congress prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act

Brazil

Cano highlighted the fact that the violence in Rio in the 1990s was still seen as a vestige of Brazil’s military dictatorship. The recent surge in violence in the city is all the more discouraging given the reversal of the progress that had been made

Central America Regional

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s proposal will also include more money for detention beds and the ability to hold families in detention longer than currently permitted

Colombia

40 de las 57 solicitudes de aplicación de la garantía de no extradición han sido rechazadas por la JEP y ninguna ha sido aprobada, lo que muestra que este no es un camino para evitarla.

La Corte Constitucional ya dijo que si no hay una votación mayoritaria de acá al 20 de junio, el Congreso le debe mandar el proyecto de ley estatutaria y será ella quien decida. La decisión de Cambio de hoy hace probable que eso sea lo que pase

El propósito de la iniciativa era hacerse escuchar por el mandatario y proponerle ideas que permitan destrabar la mesa de conversaciones y suavizar las posturas en torno a las condiciones que exigen ambas partes

Guatemala

It pits her promise to renew Guatemala’s democracy against efforts by a worried ruling class to entrench its power. Much depends on whether Ms Aldana stays on the ballot

The alarming incidence of police criminality in Guatemala reflects structural failures within the PNC that appear to have worsened over the last year

Honduras

Ratificó la sentencia emitida en marzo de 2016, de 10 años de reclusión, por la comisión de seis delitos de difamación constitutivos de injurias

This bill will work to ensure that the Honduran government, military, and police cannot commit crimes or act of violence against the Honduran people with impunity

Mexico

La Sedena buscará 21 mil nuevos elementos este año; expertos dudan de meta de reclutamiento y de capacidad de aplicar controles de confianza

Venezuela

“This is a total war,” Venezuela’s authoritarian leader added. “Since they can’t invade the country … they have decided to damage, damage, damage”

Unas 30 personas identificadas con Nicolás Maduro gritaban improperios y atacaban a la prensa, diputados y demás personas que salían del Palacio Federal Legislativo

The day ahead: March 29, 2019

I’ll be around in the afternoon. (How to contact me)

The last two days were so activity-filled that I haven’t even posted news links to this site. Today is less frantic: just a meeting with a new congressional office in the morning, and I’ll be at my desk the rest of the day. I hope to do some desk research—lots of new information has come out—and closed-door writing.

The day ahead: March 28, 2019

I should be reachable in the morning and late afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m giving a talk to a Defense Department audience today about Colombia. In the morning, I’ll be at home, locking in meetings for my next border trip (less than 2 weeks) and doing some research about the ongoing wave of family arrivals at the border. In the latter part of the afternoon, I’ll be in the office answering messages and, if there’s time, finishing a slightly overdue article for a Latin American publication about U.S. security relations with the region.

The day ahead: March 27, 2019

I’ll be hard to reach in the afternoon, OK in the morning. (How to contact me)

In addition to two meetings in Congress, I got a lot of writing done yesterday. I’ve got a bit more this morning—I need to finish preparing a presentation about Colombia to give tomorrow to a government audience. Then I’m out of the office all afternoon. It’s my turn to give a “brown bag” lunchtime talk to WOLA’s interns, and then I’m off to an event at Brookings, and an after-meeting, with visiting experts on U.S.-Mexico security cooperation.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Eln en Arauca
Rodrigo Sepúlveda photo at El Tiempo (Colombia). Caption: “El Eln hace saber a los habitantes de Arauca que siguen presentes con mensajes como este.”

(Even more here)

March 26, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

This time, on the veto override, their appeal is more parochial: Look where the wall money will come from

We knew Homeland Security had the ability to waive those protections, but we never found concrete proof that the agency had done so. Until now

$4.3 billion would pay for additional physical structures along the United States-Mexico border, as proposed by the Department of Homeland Security, and $4.3 billion would go to aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to help prevent further out-migration

The border is cruel because it gives some people what they want and denies the needs of almost everybody else. Still, the hopeful come, lately in swelling numbers

Brazil

Generais sugerem cautela e pedem mensagem ‘suave’ para evitar alarde e novo conflito político em meio às negociações da reforma da Previdência

Franco’s killing has focused attention on a different and parallel menace — Rio’s milícias, the murderous paramilitary gangs led by serving and former police officers

In Brazil, a budding authoritarian borrows from the Trump playbook

Colombia

Espera que con la entrada en funcionamiento de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP) se esclarezca qué sucedió en Riosucio ese diciembre de 1996, por qué Rito Alejo del Río decidió apoyar la toma paramilitar

Con un debate de control político y el comienzo del estudio de las objeciones presidenciales a la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP), la controversia entre los defensores del acuerdo con las Farc y sus críticos se tomará nuevamente el Congreso

En las trochas y pequeños caseríos advierten que la mayoría de los ‘elenos’ son jóvenes de civil que se mueven en motos sin placas o con matrículas venezolanas

Ese departamento volvió a los titulares luego de la muerte de 8 niños indígenas, según la Defensoría del Pueblo, en Carmen del Darién. Sin embargo, miles de chocoanos han sido víctimas de la guerra desde el 2018

Colombia, Venezuela

A civil conflict in Venezuela will simply only strengthen the ELN and Colombia’s criminal dynamics and condemn us to further decades of violence

Guatemala

Esta vez apelan a los Derechos Humanos para sacar a los veteranos que guardan prisión por crímenes cometidos durante el conflicto armado interno

Mexico

El mapa detalla que los controles migratorios están en más de 30 ciudades, las principales del sur de México

Trying to force people to stop producing, selling and taking drugs has proved a losing battle in most of the world. In contrast, most countries manage to stop their oil pipelines from being savaged with a basic rule of law

Migrants seeking asylum in the United States and forced to wait in Mexico expressed a fear of returning to Mexico, as the detention officers who transported them to the hearing stood idly in the back of the room

The president hasn’t articulated a concrete plan to address the dangers faced by journalists — and that doesn’t bode well for the future

Venezuela

Venezuela’s decline is now deeper than that of the Soviet Union after its breakup, and comparable only to Zimbabwe’s in the late 1990s, economists say

The timing showed that both Russian and Venezuelan officials wanted to convert a routine technical stop into a show of strength

There’s a high risk that U.S. military intervention would involve long-term occupation, and undermine democracy and increase violence in the long term

The House of Representatives passed three bills on Monday to expand U.S. humanitarian assistance in Venezuela, examine Russia’s growing military presence in the country and prohibit U.S. exports of crime control materials

The day ahead: March 26, 2019

I’ll be reachable in the morning and mid-day. (How to contact me)

It was worthwhile talking about the border with some new congressional offices yesterday. We have two more meetings this afternoon. Before then, I’ll be finishing an internal memo about Colombia, setting up meetings for me border trip in two weeks, and putting together a talk about Colombia that I’m giving to a government audience on Thursday.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

March 25, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

“It’s really out of control. It’s bad,” said one official of the surge in families streaming across the border

“This is not our city. It looks like a prison,” the mayor said. “If that wire stays around, it’s going to hurt us”

Argentina

With slogans such as “Memory, truth and justice”, “Never again” and “30.000 Disappeared” the marchers filled the streets of the Argentine capital

Colombia

Erradicar manualmente puede costar hasta 6,6 millones de pesos por hectárea. Con aspersión terrestre, 3,9 millones, y con aspersión aérea, entre 1,8 y 3,1 millones

En un comunicado expresaron que “presuntamente una persona lanzó un artefacto explosivo” en un resguardo de Dagua (Valle) contra guardias que organizaban la minga que mantiene bloqueada la vía Panamericana entre Cali y Buenaventura

El Salvador, Guatemala

Por ahora sigue diseñando su estrategia de campaña, para lo cual cuenta con los consejos de Porfirio Chica, ex asesor del gobierno de Antonio Saca

Honduras

El presidente Juan Orlando Hernández, así como el primer ministro de Rumania Viorica Dancila, hicieron los respectivos anuncios en el cónclave anual del Comité Americano-Israelí de Asuntos Públicos, en Washington

Mexico

López Obrador acusó que la crisis humanitaria de miles de desaparecidos en el país es el “fruto podrido” de la política económica neoliberal, en la que, según dijo, se desatendió al pueblo

Customs and Border Protection officers have not consistently followed policies intended to protect Central American asylum seekers who are likely to be harmed in Mexico from returning there under the “Remain in Mexico” program

Venezuela

Addressing a rally in Caracas on Saturday, Maduro hinted that Guaidó and other key opposition figures were also in his sights

This week, Mr. Maduro was even taking the offensive

Reporter Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter on Saturday that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material

The United States calls for the immediate release of Roberto Marrero. We will not tolerate Marrero’s imprisonment or the intimidation of the legitimate government of Venezuela

The day ahead: March 25, 2019

I’ll be sort of reachable mid-day and late afternoon. (How to contact me)

We’ve scheduled four meetings with different House offices to talk about border, migration, and foreign aid issues. When not in those meetings, I plan to be preparing my next border trip (two weeks from today) and writing a memo about Colombia.

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Tuesday, March 26

Wednesday, March 27

Thursday, March 28

  • 9:00–11:00 at the Atlantic Council: Digital Resilience in Latin America: Automation, Disinformation, & Polarization (RSVP required).
  • 6:00–7:00 at WOLA: Screening – ‘A River of Blood’: How Colombian Communities Are Fighting to Save the Río Atrato (RSVP required).

Saturday, March 30

  • 1:00–4:00 at Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church: Urban Mosaic: From Fragile Cities to Shalom Cities (RSVP required).

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images photo at ProPublica. Caption: “A Salvadoran army soldier on patrol in 2012 in the village of El Mozote. Tens of thousands of people were killed during the civil war in the 1980s, many at the hands of the army, its paramilitaries and death squads, according to a commission backed by the U.N.”

(Even more here)

March 22, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), vice chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said Neller’s memos showed the danger in diverting Pentagon funds to build Trump’s border wall

Republicans have seized on statements from Democrats to paint them as turning a blind eye to the mounting problems and make the case that the rising numbers at the border have proved Trump right about a “crisis”

Laura Cruz, a spokeswoman for the City of El Paso, said the City cannot legally provide shelter for the immigrants

The report reflects the abundant work done between January 1 and December 31, 2018, and highlights the most relevant outcomes attained over the course of the year

In a critical moment for democracy, independent media, and freedom of expression in the Hemisphere, the report also highlights the realization of on-sight visits to Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil

Brazil

Brazil’s former President Michel Temer was arrested on Thursday in “Operation Radioactivity,” a probe of alleged graft in the construction of a nuclear power plant

Since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985 after a military dictatorship, four of the eight presidents who took office have now fallen afoul of the country’s laws, either impeached for misconduct or arrested after leaving office

Colombia

Los impedimentos que se aprueben, que modificarán el quórum, y la posición de Cambio Radical determinarán el futuro de los reparos del presidente Duque a la estatutaria de la JEP en el Congreso

El Salvador

The move by conservatives in El Salvador’s Parliament comes as 20 former senior military officers have been charged with an array of crimes, including murder, rape and kidnapping

Guatemala

El Ministerio Público tenía entre el polvo y el olvido miles de denuncias de graves violaciones a los derechos humanos que ocurrieron durante la guerra interna. En diciembre de 2018 concluyó la primera fase de un proyecto que busca rescatarlas, pero no es suficiente

Mexico

Judge Jonathan Simpson at a San Diego courthouse repeatedly asked the government’s attorney how to handle cases of applicants told to wait for their U.S. court dates in Mexican border towns

Hammered by a series of hurricanes, a chain of protests, and a surge in violent attacks by criminal groups, Acapulco’s economy is at a breaking point. Evodio took over as mayor and is tasked with the impossible

En enero y febrero pasados fueron asesinadas un total de 5 mil 803 personas en México. Esta cifra convierte al primer bimestre de 2019 en el más violento del que haya registro

South America Regional

Attempts at regional integration always seem to stumble over politics

Venezuela

If a political transition does not materialize, what policy other than a well-designed oil-for-food program would avert famine?

Caribbean Regional, Cuba, Venezuela

The only country that seems to still be receiving Venezuelan petroleum products is Cuba, which doesn’t pay for fuel in U.S. dollars but in an exchange of doctors and medical services

Venezuela

“This is the beginning of a phase in which we’ll see a more profound collapse of services in the country”

As he was ushered away, Mr. Marrero shouted to his neighbors that the Sebin officers had planted two rifles and a grenade in his apartment to justify his arrest

By detaining Mr. Marrero, Mr. Maduro was trying to gauge how far the international community is prepared to go to defend Mr. Guaidó, Hugo Carvajal, a former Venezuelan military intelligence chief who defected this year, said

“There isn’t a single major figure in the regime that hasn’t reached out to make a deal,” Rubio said. “The danger is that if Maduro is pushed aside by such a figure, international pressure could diminish”

The day ahead: March 22, 2019

I’m all booked up today. (How to contact me)

I’m guest-teaching a human rights class at the National Defense University’s Perry Center this morning. Then I’m meeting a group of students whom I’ve been advising on a year-long project. Then meeting a colleague works at a foundation. Then meeting a visiting European scholar. I’ll be hard to reach otherwise, and I doubt I’ll be posting much to this site today.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Ariana Drehsler/AFP/Getty Images photo at The Guardian (UK). Caption: “Photograph by Ariana Drehsler showing a man looking at the US/Mexico border fence from Nogales, Arizona, on 9 February.”

(Even more here)

March 21, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

The debate about immigrants’ rights, about the treatment of immigrants, about the treatment of asylum seekers, is going to be suppressed or censored

The judge’s refusal was a setback for the administration’s highly touted initiative to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts

The Trump administration this week will begin implementing its “Migrant Protection Protocols” in El Paso, requiring some migrants to return to neighboring Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

Brazil

The true path to success (and popularity) would be to put the culture wars aside – and focus on turning the economy around and reducing crime in a sustainable, legal way. But don’t count on it

Brazil, Venezuela

That yesterday Bolsonaro did not unambiguously reiterate Brazil’s official position with regards to military intervention in Venezuela creates concerning levels of uncertainty

Brazil

“If this is the way forward, we might as well stay put,” said a Brazilian official directly involved in the negotiations, who requested anonymity to speak freely

Colombia

Colombia’s constitutional court said on Wednesday it cannot rule on whether potential changes to legislation that implements a peace deal with Marxist rebels are constitutional until after they are approved by congress

Since the whole package has already been approved by the constitutional court, his veto could trigger a clash between the executive and judiciary, throwing the whole peace process into the air

No llegó el Estado y las comunidades quedaron a merced del ELN y el Clan del Golfo -o Autodefensas Gaitanistas ó paramilitares como son conocidas en la zona

Colombia, Venezuela

One such speculation is that the administration will try to create a “humanitarian corridor” that would let U.S. troops enter a small area of Venezuela, possibly along the border with Columbia

Costa Rica

Rojas had survived at least one previous assassination attempt. In 2015, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the government to provide Bribri and Teribe people with protection

Guatemala

No importa si gana la aliada del sistema, Sandra Torres; la opositora Thelma Aldana; o cualquier otro candidato. Lo importante es que puedan participar opositores para que las elecciones tengan oxígeno y sean una competencia real

Haiti

What at first resembled a comedic plot about a group of ex-soldiers looking for a quick and easy mercenary score was in fact a poorly executed but serious effort by Moïse to consolidate his political power with American muscle

Mexico

The National Guard could be the beginning of the demilitarization of Mexico’s more than decade-long war on organized crime, or it could escalate it

  • Bahr Abdul-Razzak, Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Ron Deibert, Siena Anstis, Reckless Vii (Citizen Lab (Canada), March 21, 2019).

Griselda Triana, journalist and the wife of slain journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas, was targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware in the days after his killing

The seven cases being heard in a downtown San Diego courtroom are among the first to advance under the Trump administration policy that calls for people seeking asylum in the U.S. to be held in Mexico

Nicaragua

El gobierno los “liberará” en un plazo no mayor a 90 días como parte del acuerdo suscrito con la Alianza Cívica, con la OEA y el Vaticano como testigos, para volver a reactivar el diálogo en el INCAE

Venezuela

El teniente Dugarte ofreció declaraciones sobre lo que sucede en las sede del cuerpo de inteligencia en Boleita, donde se han registrado numerosos casos de tortura en los detenidos

Members of the Venezuelan armed forces that abandon President Nicolas Maduro will keep their rank and be reinstated once a new government is in place, the opposition-controlled legislature said

The day ahead: March 21, 2019

I’m more available in the afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m meeting with colleagues from a big migrant-rights group this morning. Then, because of a cancellation, I have a pretty open calendar in the afternoon. Which is good because I need to finish a presentation about Colombia that I’ll be giving at the National Defense University tomorrow, and a draft memo on border policy to prepare for a big gathering of groups during my next border visit in less than three weeks. Meanwhile, we’ve scheduled a bunch of meetings for early next week with congressional staff to talk about the same topics, and need to polish our presentation. So time in the office will be well-used today.

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