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.

Border Security

The past week in U.S. border security

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget request for Homeland Security includes $1.57 billion to build 74 miles of new border wall/fence in south Texas and near San Diego, California. (That’s $21.2 million per mile.) It would also fund the hiring of 500 new Border Patrol agents (toward an eventual goal of 5,000, expanding the force to […]

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This set of charts shows why a border wall won’t stop drugs

This graphic, from a San Diego Union-Tribune article that appeared Saturday, includes data that we almost never get to see: real-time information on U.S. border authorities’ drug seizures. (Click on it, or here, to view it larger.) The data covers just one sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, which Border Patrol divides into nine sectors. This […]

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The drop in Border Patrol apprehensions leveled off in April

Border Patrol reported its April apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border last week, when I was traveling at the border. The 11,129 migrants apprehended last month broke February’s and March’s records for the fewest since Border Patrol started making monthly records available, in October 1999. But the 9 percent month-on-month decline was less steep, […]

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Podcast: “The Border Wall and the Budget”

The Trump White House came dangerously close to shutting down the U.S. government over funding for its proposed wall along the border with Mexico. Here I explain the budget process, what we know of the administration’s wall-building plans, and why it’s a bad idea. I think this one came out pretty well. The White House’s […]

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What is the “Trump Effect” on Migration? It’s Too Early to Draw Conclusions

WOLA just posted a new commentary that I drafted, which seeks to put into context the shocking recent U.S.-Mexico border migration statistics. February and March saw the fewest migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border since available records began in 1999. The arrival of Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant rhetoric clearly has something to do with that. But […]

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“Ground Zero” is safer than the rest of America

Here’s Attorney-General Jeff Sessions in the border city of Nogales, Arizona, on Tuesday: Here, along our nation’s southwest border, is ground zero in this fight. Here, under the Arizona sun, ranchers work the land to make an honest living, and law-abiding citizens seek to provide for their families. But it is also here, along this […]

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Numbers do show a “Trump effect” on migration

These statistics are from an upcoming WOLA memo analyzing sharp recent changes in undocumented migration to the United States. There was a lot of migration during the last quarter of 2016, especially children and families from Central America. And now there is a very sharp drop since mid-January. As that WOLA memo will explain, both phenomena—the […]

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New report: “Throwing Money at the Wall”

Here’s a 350-word summary of my 3,000-word report on what’s up with Trump’s border wall, which we just posted to WOLA’s website. But you should really ignore this and read the longer one: it’s better and has graphics and links to lots of sources. How much would Trump’s proposed border wall cost? We’ve seen estimates ranging […]

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The past week in U.S. border security

CNN got some details about the initial $999 million that the Trump administration’s Homeland Security Department is requesting from Congress to begin work on a border wall during the 2017 fiscal year, which ends September 30. That amount would pay for “14 miles of new border wall in San Diego, 28 miles of new levee […]

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My growing collection of Trump border wall cost estimates

(I put these together as part of a still-unfinished piece that WOLA will publish online… sometime after I finish it.) What might it cost to fulfill Donald Trump’s promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border? Estimates of construction cost vary wildly. Here is a range culled from U.S. media: $8 billion, says the […]

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Updated border graphic

Here’s a homemade graphic ranking Border Patrol’s nine sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to 13 measures. Some takeaways: Heroin and meth trafficking are west coast phenomena. Cocaine flows down both coasts, while marijuana flows favor south Texas and Arizona. Most migrants, especially Central American kids and families, come to south Texas or Arizona. The […]

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A “Trump Effect?”: New WOLA Podcast on migration and the border

I recorded a new WOLA Podcast this morning with colleagues Maureen Meyer and Hannah Smith from WOLA’s Mexico and Migration programs: U.S. statistics showed a sharp drop in migration from Mexico, and especially from Central America, in February. WOLA’s Adam Isacson, Maureen Meyer, and Hannah Smith talk about what is happening and what now awaits […]

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The past week in U.S. border security

The official Request for Proposals for U.S.-Mexico border wall designs is now up at the federal government contracting website. My favorite of the 12 requirements: “The north side of wall (i.e. U.S. facing side) shall be aesthetically pleasing in color, anti-climb texture, etc., to be consistent with general surrounding environment. The manufacturing/construction process should facilitate […]

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