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.

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Border Security

A twisty riverbank explains why a wall won’t stop 60 percent of today’s migrants

Here’s Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) during last week’s House-Senate Conference Committee meeting on the 2019 federal budget, which hinges on President Trump’s demand for a border wall. Cuellar is pointing to a map of the U.S.-Mexico border in his district. “We have a river that doesn’t run straight,” he says, reminding his colleagues that past […]

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Here’s a Better Way to Spend $5.7 Billion at the Border

I wrote this yesterday while watching the House-Senate Conference Committee meet to discuss a border spending package that might keep the government open after February 15 (and avoid a disastrous presidential “national emergency” declaration to build a border wall). The gist: border security isn’t “solved,” but what’s needed now is adjustments, not a sweeping, pharaonic […]

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Elements of the House Democrats’ border security proposal

In advance of the February 15 shutdown deadline, as an alternative to Trump’s border wall, here’s what the House Democrats are proposing. This is as summarized by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) in today’s House-Senate conference committee meeting: Ports of entry: 1,000 additional CBP officers; imaging technology; southbound scans Border Patrol stations infrastructure repair / improvement […]

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The asylum process can be manageable—and Mexico is giving it a try

Incredibly, about 60 percent of migrants being apprehended, or showing up without documents, at the U.S.-Mexico border are now children and families. Most are asking for asylum in the United States. (Mexico, too, has seen a fourteen-fold increase in asylum-seekers since 2014.) That has never happened before. Take away that population, and the number of […]

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Last day at the border, for now

Go to the New York Times right now, and there’s a video on the front page from Tijuana, where I spent the last 2 days. Look really closely and you can see me very briefly, lurking by the San Diego-Tijuana port of entry very early Wednesday morning: Here’s a video from yesterday, in which WOLA’s […]

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What would happen if Trump declares a national emergency?

I’ve edited this post to reflect that I got it wrong and we’re screwed: a joint resolution requires the President’s signature, or for Congress to override his veto, which is unlikely. This is the result of a 1983 Supreme Court decision. My updates are indicated with italics and strikethroughs. President Trump keeps hinting that, perhaps within the next few days, he may declare a “state of emergency” at the border and order U.S. military personnel to build a wall. This would allow him to build a wall despite the deadlocked debate […]

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Response to the White House’s letter to Congress on the border

As the government shutdown drags on, the White House sent a mass mailing to Congress today making its case for a border wall and a crackdown on asylum seekers. A letter and a slideshow PDF present a lot of data and statistics. But nearly all of them tell only part of the story, leaving out […]

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Q&A: Why Trump’s Latest Asylum Decision Will Put Migrants’ Lives in Danger

Just before the holiday, Mother Jones ran a Q&A between me and reporter Noah Lanard about the Trump administration’s newly announced “Remain in Mexico” policy. At least until it’s struck down by the courts, this policy, agreed with Mexico’s new government, will let asylum-seekers from third countries await their immigration court hearing dates inside Mexico. […]

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What a “partial” government shutdown would affect

I just went through the outstanding appropriations bills and came up with this incomplete list of agencies that would be affected if parts of the U.S. federal government “shut down” at midnight tonight. President Trump insists that he won’t sign a 2019 budget bill—not even a stopgap to keep the government open for a few […]

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Mid-Wednesday border wall / shutdown update

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) will shortly introduce a simple bill keeping the still-unfunded part of the U.S. government funded, at 2018 levels, through February 8. This Continuing Resolution will avert a partial government shutdown on Friday December 21. It will not include new wall-building money. Scheduling the next budget/shutdown deadline for February 8 […]

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Yep

People have asked me, “Didn’t you listen to Trump when he said that he would build a wall?” I didn’t take the idea seriously during the campaign. From “I voted for Trump. Now his wall may destroy my butterfly paradise,” a Washington Post column by Luciano Guerra, “a nature photographer and outreach coordinator and educator for the […]

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Windows XP?

This from a September Homeland Security Inspector-General report on Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s border drone program: (“GCS” are the ground control stations communicating with the border drones. “NASOC” are National Air Security Operations Centers, managing manned and unmanned border surveillance flights, located at Sierra Vista, Arizona; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Grand Forks, North Dakota.) […]

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