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

WOLA Podcast: What next in Venezuela?

Here’s a conversation recorded yesterday with Geoff Ramsey, who works on Venezuela full-time at WOLA. I wanted Geoff to talk about how to help restore democracy in Venezuela without a military intervention—but also without vague “dialogues” that just buy time for Maduro. He gave me a lot to work with. We’re both fast talkers, so […]

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Thinking about the unthinkable: U.S. military intervention in Venezuela

Es más o menos aceptable la traducción automática de Google al español de este artículo. Disclaimer: I’m not WOLA’s Venezuela expert. I’ve only visited the country once. Most of what I know about the country comes from press and NGO reports. The following exercise is me considering the unthinkable based on years of studying defense […]

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Top-line notes from my February 11-20 border trip

I spent the week of February 11, and some of this week, in San Diego and Tijuana. It was like holding down two jobs. Each day: At 4:30am, I’d go to the airport and escort migrant families to the flights that, in most cases, relatives had purchased for them. The San Diego Rapid Response Network […]

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CBP provisions in the 2019 budget

(I wrote this a few hours ago, before we learned that Trump is going the national emergency route. Either way, this is what’s in the law that he’s going to sign.) Hi from Tijuana. I’m between meetings again and looking over the text of the budget compromise that Congress will be voting on, and that […]

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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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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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