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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Charts: migration at the U.S.-Mexico border in August

This afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported on its apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in August. While it was a slightly higher August than usual, it saw a jump in arrivals of children and families seeking asylum. The Trump Homeland Security Department lamented the increase in asylum-seekers, and blamed the rise on […]

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Migration at the border in July: the usual summer decline

Customs and Border Protection has released the number of migrants it apprehended in July. It looked like most of the past seven Julys—usually a month when, due to scorching temperatures along the U.S.-Mexico border, migration declines. The nearly seven years of data represented in this chart—the only span for which we have monthly information this […]

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24 years of coca and eradication in Colombia

Over the years I’ve been inadvertently building a big collection of “graphs that need periodic updating, which makes them more complicated.” This one depicts coca cultivation in Colombia, and efforts to eradicate it, since 1994. There are two measures of coca cultivation, from the United States and the UN. Eradication has mostly occurred through aerial spraying […]

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En route to Arizona

This graphic shows Border Patrol’s apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families in all nine U.S.-Mexico border sectors since October 2016. The charts explain why three of us from WOLA are on a plane to Arizona right now. (Arizona’s two sectors are highlighted in yellow.) The part of the border that has seen the most child […]

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Migration at the border in May was below average—except for kids and families

At 5:00 today, U.S. Customs and Border protection released its latest count of migrants it apprehended at the border. The Homeland Security Department’s release about the numbers, and some of the press coverage, seems certain to trigger another freakout from President Trump: The number of apprehended illegal border crossers increased slightly from the previous month […]

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This is a striking graphic

Although the peace accord was reportedly a low priority among Colombian voters, this graphic of Sunday’s first-round presidential vote shows a sharp divergence between the half of the country that voted “yes” for the FARC peace accord on October 2, 2016, and the half of the country that voted “no.”

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How to break the U.S. federal prison system

This is one of a few points we’ll make in an analysis WOLA will publish early next week, probably Tuesday. I want to break it down here in greater detail. It just seems so crazy. It’s easiest to look at it step by step. First, this is the current U.S. federal prison population (source): People […]

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The Post-Election Surge in Honduran Migrants

As even a Google search of the word “caravan” will tell you, the Trump administration is freaked out about a jump in migration from Central America since March. Children and families from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are once again crossing the border and seeking out U.S. authorities to petition for asylum or other protected […]

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Migration was flat at the border in April

After a big jump in March, the number of migrants that Border Patrol apprehended in April did not increase. In fact, April’s arrivals were pretty typical for the last several Aprils. Although when you take away protection-seeking kids and families, the remainder is much fewer than it was five years ago. Remember this next time […]

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Special Forces trainings in Latin America aren’t declining, despite the reported numbers

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, we obtained (heavily redacted) reports detailing U.S. Special Operations Forces’ training deployments around the world. (Reports since 2014 are here; earlier ones are at Security Assistance Monitor.) This allowed me to update a table that ran in an August 2016 WOLA commentary about these trainings in Latin America. That […]

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After post-Trump slump, cross-border migration is increasing

Customs and Border Protection released data yesterday showing a 22.5 percent one-month jump in the number of undocumented migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s the fourth straight, and largest, increase since migration bottomed out to decades-low monthly levels following Donald Trump’s inauguration. The August statistic is double April’s. April used to be a significantly […]

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UNODC’s Colombia coca estimate is out

On July 14 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released (PDF) its 2016 estimate of coca cultivation in Colombia (the dark blue line). It shows a lower estimate than the U.S. government’s (the green line), but a sharper rate of increase over 2015. UNODC identified four reasons for the increase: Some coca farmers “have […]

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The first increase in cross-border migration under Trump

In mid-April, amid evidence that Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric was driving new migration to lows not seen in decades, I wrote the following prediction: WOLA predicts that, within a few months, migration numbers will increase from their present levels, despite the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric. These numbers are unlikely to return to the unusually high […]

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