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5 links from the past week
- Ian Gordon, who has reported for years about immigration at Mother Jones, commemorates the end of Donald Trump’s first (only?) term with a sweeping overview of the rise and fall of the right to seek asylum in the United States. He starts with World War II, then goes through the cold war and the 1980 Refugee Act, the Central American civil wars of the 1980s, the Obama administration’s response to the 2014 “surge” of unaccompanied Central American kids, and the Trump administration’s total obliteration of asylum. Though nothing since the end of World War II resembles what we’ve seen since 2017, Gordon finds a lot of continuities in the United States’ reluctance to open its doors to people who need protection.
- At ProPublica, Dara Lind similarly covers the Trump administration’s dismantling of asylum at the border, but with a different angle: whether and how a possible Biden administration would dismantle what Trump and Stephen Miller have put in place. Lind identifies the divisions about asylum policy during the Obama administration, which may persist if Biden moves into the White House, especially during its first year or two. “An advocate who’s conferred with Biden’s team put it this way: ‘Long term, putting in place a refugee program for the Western Hemisphere has to be the goal. And I believe that is where they’re going, which is great.’ ‘Short term,’ the advocate continued, ‘I’m not going to like the things they’re doing.’”
- In the first of what will be a five-part Washington Post series on organized crime in Mexico, Mary Beth Sheridan gives an overview of how bad things have gotten in the past few years: there are now more than 200 significant violent criminal groups, and “In a classified study produced in 2018 but not previously reported, CIA analysts concluded that drug-trafficking groups had gained effective control over about 20 percent of Mexico.”
- Also at ProPublica, together with The Texas Tribune, Perla Trevizo and Jeremy Schwartz dig through the Trump administration’s wall-building contracts. They happened without competitive bidding, appear to reward Republican donors in “pay to play” fashion, and renegotiations and additions have eaten up $2.9 billion over their original cost.
- This La Silla Vacía article requires some detailed knowledge of Colombia’s peace process, but it’s a really revealing look at how and why the government of Juan Manuel Santos, which negotiated the peace accord, failed to implement its land and rural provisions during its final two years. It’s based on a book by Andrés García Trujillo, who was on Santos’s negotiating team and has no problem pointing fingers and naming names about how politics stood in the way of the accord afterward. (It’s a shame, though, that the book, published by Routledge, costs a whopping $154.15.)