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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U.S. Policy

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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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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Gigantic 116th Congress spreadsheet

Below, here as a Google Sheet, and here as an Excel file, is a very detailed spreadsheet of all U.S. representatives and senators who were sworn in today. I made it by mashing up the data I found useful from the unitedstates/congress-legislators database on GitHub and the freshly updated spreadsheet of member and demographic data […]

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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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This isn’t an aid package

Today the U.S. and Mexican governments announced what looks like a bombshell: a monster $10.6 billion package of new U.S. aid to address the root causes of migration. $5.8 billion of it for Central America, $4.8 billion for Mexico. “US pledges $10.6B aid for Central America, southern Mexico,” an AP headline gushes. Not so fast. […]

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“Concrete actions”

Nicaraguan journalist Dánae Vílchez in the Washington Post on Friday: The United States has taken some important steps, including the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act that was approved this week by Congress, a bill that would place conditions on the “approval of loans to the Ortega regime by international financial institutions,” and expand the Magnistky sanctions on people […]

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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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There’s No Emotionally Satisfying Response to Trump “Caravan Rage”

As the latest Central American migrant caravan limps through Chiapas, the first of up to a dozen Mexican states lying between them and the U.S. border, Donald Trump has seized on them as his best hope for maintaining a Republican majority in Congress. He and others on the U.S. right have gone into overdrive with […]

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9 Questions (and Answers) About the Central American Migrant Caravan

A new resource at WOLA’s website provides quick, fact-filled, documented and cited answers to these questions: Why are people leaving? And why are they leaving now? (Short answer: violence, corruption, climate, domestic violence, and economics.) Can Trump cut aid to Central America? (Short answer: no.) Why are people traveling as a caravan? (Short answer: safety in numbers.) […]

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