Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.


Week Ahead

The week ahead

The holidays are a fading memory. This week’s going to be busy.

Congress is back, and the Trump administration has sent it a document requesting $33 billion in funding for border security over the next 10 years, including $18 billion for a wall, in return for allowing hundreds of thousands of “dreamers” to stay in the country. If there is no deal on this, the U.S. government could shut down a week from Friday.

I’ll be working on that—expect more written material and a lot of less-visible work—while moving ahead a report on Colombia’s post-conflict challenges. (It’s currently 6,700 words of semi-prose, now I’m filling it in with bits of research and turning it into proper prose.) In addition, WOLA’s annual planning process is now underway, so there will be documents to write, and some long meetings, regarding that.

I may be hard to reach at times this week, due to marathon meetings, urgent border work, or the need to shut the door and write.

The week ahead

It was wonderful to see relatives all over the northeastern United States during the past week’s holidays. But it’s also good to be back at work, as of today.

The first week of January is usually quiet here in Washington: Congress hasn’t really started up yet, and there are few or no events. It’s also quiet in Latin America, where most people (governing elites, anyway) are still out for the holiday.

This means I expect to spend this week doing some beginning-of-year planning, and some long uninterrupted writing. By the end of Friday, I hope to:

  • Have completed a lousy but workable rough draft of a big report on Colombia’s post-conflict challenges.
  • Have updated our database of U.S. security assistance programs to reflect the annual defense bill that became law on December 12.
  • Have completed planning documents for my 2018 work.

The week ahead

It’s hard to believe there’s only two more weeks to go before the holidays effectively end 2017. (And, perhaps, before the federal government shuts down for lack of a budget deal—the current deadline is December 22.) I’ll be out visiting family between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so this is my second-to-last week of the year.

I’ll be spending it here in Washington, but with a very full schedule. Tuesday is an all-day human rights conference hosted by U.S. Southern Command. Wednesday is two NGO human rights “roundtables” with the federal government: one in the morning with Southcom, and one on Colombia in the afternoon with the State Department. There are several other meetings and events scattered across my calendar.

When not at those, I’ll be grabbing all available moments to:

  • Release a new report about the U.S. border at San Diego-Tijuana, where big challenges persist that cannot be solved by “the wall.”
  • Complete and distribute a shorter memo to Congress on the migration numbers that came out last week.
  • Make updates to our “tracker” of border and migration legislation.
  • Continue steady work on a big report on post-conflict Colombia.
  • Keep updating our database of military aid programs to reflect changes wrought by the new Defense Department authorization law.
  • Add a few posts to this site.

The week ahead

I’ll be in Washington all week. My main goal is to finish part 1 of a 2-part report on Colombia’s post-conflict challenges. Part 1 will focus on the short term items, mainly reintegration, coca, and transitional justice. Part 2 will go into an especially thorny long-term item: bringing governance to historically ungoverned regions.

I’ve also got a close eye on the legislative debate over the 2018 budget, which must be passed by Friday and is hung up in part on Trump’s border wall and DACA. I aim to have a piece out by mid-week about the border wall prototypes just built in San Diego and how irrelevant they are. But the big legislative battle is likely to get postponed to the week of December 18-22.

When not writing, I’ve already got 15 meetings and events on the calendar, which is likely to fill up more. And the electoral crisis in Honduras also looms large.

The week ahead

I flew to south Texas on Sunday, where a few of us from WOLA will be until Wednesday evening. It’s a quick trip to do some more field research on border security.

I’ll be back in Washington, in the office, on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully by then, we’ll have posted a long piece taking the pulse of Colombia’s transitional justice system, which I drafted on the plane.

The week ahead

It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States. This is the second most widely celebrated holiday of the year here, after Christmas. Nearly everything will be closed Thursday, and—except for retail—also on Friday. I’ll be away for the holiday, though not traveling far this time.

Washington will be quiet all week. The House and Senate are out of session. I don’t see any Latin America-related events happening here during this truncated week.

It’s a week to focus on writing and research. We’ve got three drafts in semi-written state right now: a memo explaining what happened last week with Colombia’s post-conflict transitional justice system; a memo about the relevance of the border wall prototypes under construction in San Diego, California; and a big, slow-moving overview of Colombia’s post-conflict challenges.

I hope to finish at least two of those this week, and make progress on the third.

Then on Sunday, a few of us will be getting on a plane for McAllen, Texas. We’ll be spending the first three days of the week doing some research in the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The week ahead

Six months ago, when my daughter won Washington DC’s spelling bee, one of her prizes was plane tickets to anywhere in the country. She chose Orlando because she’s a big Harry Potter fan. So that’s where I’ll be on Thursday and Friday of this week, taking some vacation days.

Monday through Wednesday I’ll be in the office with a long list of tasks and several can’t-miss meetings to navigate around. The work will focus on organizing our October 16 conference on Colombia peace accord implementation an upcoming report about Colombia, and a few efforts to counter Trump’s border-security proposals.

The week ahead

For the first time since August 7, I’m starting a Monday here in Washington after having worked on Friday here in Washington. This means I won’t be spending as much of this week trying to catch up from travel. My calendar is also lighter.

So this week I hope to:

  • Publish an “explainer” about the four bits of border security legislation we have our eye on (the wall, the Border Patrol increase, the ICE deportation force increase, and DACA).
  • Do a brief piece on Colombia’s ex-combatant reintegration program (or lack thereof).
  • Put together much of a mid-October conference on Colombia.
  • Do some sort of comparison of the House and Senate foreign aid bills.
  • Write a substantial chunk of a big report on Colombia’s peace process.
  • Record a WOLA podcast.
  • Record a solo podcast for this site.

That’s a long list for one week; events could sidetrack me. But it’s good to start out ambitiously.

The Week Ahead

The week after Labor Day is always a crazy one in Washington. Congress comes back from a long recess with a month to approve a budget. Things in the news just generally start happening at a faster pace with the summer over. (Though this summer was pretty frenetic.) Universities are back in session.

This week is going to be rapid-fire. I’m coming back to it after 8 days in Colombia, with my office still in disarray from renovations during the second half of August. I’m spending this Labor Day trying to get re-organized, from e-mails I couldn’t get to while traveling, to accumulated receipts, to a teetering stack of incoming paper, to a to-do list that needs updating and re-thinking. That, along with numerous check-ins with co-workers, will probably occupy most of my time through Wednesday or so.

Then, to figure out what to work on first. Finishing my big half-done Colombia report? Carrying out a new blitz of congressional meetings on the foreign aid bill (to be marked up in the Senate Thursday) and the border wall? (Or perhaps Hurricane Harvey, which hit while I was in Colombia, has stopped the wall for now?) Scrambling to organize a big Colombia conference in mid-October? Throwing all our energy into saving DACA?

A lot to figure out. I’ve only been back in the U.S. for 48 hours, but must hit the ground running.


The week ahead

This is an odd week: WOLA is undergoing renovation, and I’ll be working from home after Monday. I’ll also be off Friday and next Monday—the family is taking a long weekend to see the solar eclipse somewhere near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

While I’m here, I’ll be working on a big upcoming Colombia report and continuing to organize an end-of-month visit to Colombia. I expect that my work will be 90% focused on Colombia, other than a meeting or two on Capitol Hill to talk about border security. And this afternoon, when I pack up my office in advance of the work crew.

The week ahead

August is here, which in Washington means fewer meetings and a chance to catch up on writing and research. This week I’ll be doing a lot of that. A big report on the current moment in Colombia’s “post-conflict” is slowly taking shape, but I don’t plan to finish/publish it until September. I’ll also be nailing down plans for an end-of-month visit to Colombia with a member of Congress.

I look forward to a week of keeping strange hours as I write thousands of words.

The week ahead

I’m back from vacation. The transition has been smooth so far, in part because I paid too much attention to work while I was out.

I’m here in Washington all week, and I expect to focus mainly, but not exclusively, on border security work. The Homeland Security appropriations bill is in committee in the House tomorrow. While we’ve done all we can to influence the outcome, the Republican majority that drafts the bill is going to accede to the White House’s wishes. This is an opportunity to make noise and strategize for next steps. Expect a written analysis this week.

The House will also mark up the foreign aid bill on Wednesday, so we’ll probably have some analysis of that done as well. The bill will not cut foreign aid as drastically as the Trump administration wants, but the House bill still calls for some painful steps that we can hopefully avoid later in the legislative process.

I also hope to finish a memo on U.S.-Colombia relations following the theme of the podcast I recorded last week. And to do a lot of research. It’s nice to be back on the job.

The week ahead

This is sort of a truncated week, followed by some vacation. I leave town mid-day Thursday, visiting family for the July 4 week. I’m taking off the following week as well. This is the first extended time off since Christmas, and while I plan to post to this site as often as always, I look forward to the slower pace.

While I’m here this week, I won’t be in my office very much. On Monday, I’m speaking on a panel at a non-public State Department about Colombia, which goes nearly all day. On Tuesday we’re interviewing several program assistant candidates. And on Wednesday we’ve got an all-day media training. I’m doing a few more interviews Thursday, then it’s off to New York.

The week ahead

The legislative push continues this week, largely on border-security work. As of now I’ve got eight meetings scheduled on Capitol Hill, and that may increase.

When I’m not doing that, I expect to complete two pieces of shorter written work: an update on U.S. policy toward Colombia (such as it is right now), an explainer about a border-security hiring surge, and another (in final edits, awaiting release) about drug flows in the Americas. I’ll finish a book chapter about coca cultivation today. I want to put out podcasts both here and at And I want to get started on a super-brief report about what we saw in May at the San Diego-Tijuana border.

OK, that’s more tasks than there are hours for, especially with a pretty heavy meeting schedule. We’ll see how much my team and I manage to get done.

Newer Posts
Older Posts
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.