Manuel Madrid

Former Prospect writing fellow Manuel Madrid is a reporter for the Miami New Times.

Recent Articles

Ricky Se Fue—Y Ahora Qué? A Mobilized Puerto Rico Battles Increased Federal Control

The fight to oust Puerto Rico’s governor electrified and unified an island normally splintered by politics. But can Puerto Ricans stay united to defend what’s left of the island’s autonomy?

On the evening of July 25, Puerto Rico’s Constitution Day and the 121st anniversary of the U.S. invasion of the island, disgraced Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló finally announced his resignation. With it, perhaps, comes the promise of a new political era. The sound of Rosselló’s televised address, which was played over speakers in Old San Juan, was quickly drowned out by the cheers of jubilant protesters who had taken over the streets in front of the governor’s mansion to demand Rosselló’s ouster for his role in a scandal involving misogynistic and homophobic private chats as well as recent arrests of members of his government on pay-to-play corruption charges. For nearly two weeks, massive demonstrations led by famous artists and community leaders had rocked Puerto Rico, shutting down highways. They were complemented by demonstrations on the mainland, including those in New York and Washington, D.C. Videos of boricuas taking over...

DNA Testing at the Border Could Provide Cover for More Family Separations

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is piloting a rapid DNA testing program to verify the biological relationship of migrant families at the border. The program, which was set to begin this month in undisclosed locations, is the latest attempt by Trump administration officials to crack down on migrants who they believe are exploiting the U.S. immigration system to evade detention. In effect, however, the testing provides one more tool that the administration can use to separate children from their families. Unless a child is accompanied by a biological parent or legal guardian—siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles won’t do—they’ll be taken from their relatives and placed in custody. DHS officials describe the new testing as an effort to tackle child trafficking at and around the border, where immigration agents claim that children are being “rented out” to border crossers at increasing rates. But immigration experts contest the necessity of...

The Trump Administration Says It Can’t Handle More Migrants, Ignoring Thousands of Vacant Beds in Family Detention Centers

If the border is overflowing, as Trump insists, why are some facilities less than half full?

Thousands of beds in family detention centers in Pennsylvania and Texas lie vacant, as the Trump administration announces plans to build two new temporary facilities on the border to house migrant parents and children. On Thursday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced that the government will spend close to $40 million on building two new “tent cities”—temporary housing centers for migrant families—in Texas. The two facilities are set to go up by the end of April and will house hundreds of migrants each. “It’s clear that all of our resources are being stretched thin,” McAleenan told reporters during a press conference in Hidalgo, Texas. “The system is full and we are beyond capacity.” The announcement comes just two days after the release of an emergency report by the Department of Homeland Security’s bipartisan advisory council, in which panel members urged the administration to build as many as four...

With Hurricane Season Looming, Billions in Disaster Recovery for Puerto Rico Remain Unspent

Congress approved $20 billion last year to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria in 2017. Less than $14,000 has been spent on the island.

Dennis M. Rivera/AP Photo
More than a year after being authorized by Congress, $20 billion of recovery funds for Puerto Rico remain in bureaucratic limbo, giving rise to a blame game among Trump administration officials and officials on the island. As of March 1, less than $14,000 of the $20 billion approved by Congress has been spent on post-disaster reconstruction activities in Puerto Rico, according to Department of Housing and Urban Development records . About $18.5 billion of that hurricane relief funding has not even reached the island yet, stuck somewhere between the department’s rigorous planning requirements and its drawing up of grant agreements. During a spirited congressional hearing over the future of Puerto Rico’s power generation last week, lawmakers attempted to get to the bottom of the delay, making clear its implications for the island’s battered electrical grid. “We got 53 days until the next hurricane season, and the people of Puerto Rico will not have a robust...

A Bad Week for Paul Manafort and School Scammers—But a Great Year for White-Collar Crime

Under Trump, prosecutions for white-collar crimes have reached an all-time low, while prosecutions for being an undocumented immigrant have soared.

trickle-downers_35.jpg Going strictly by recent headlines, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a bad time to be a white-collar criminal in America. Last week, former Trump campaign manager and grifter extraordinaire Paul Manafort was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for financial and fraud convictions; the very next day, Justice Department prosecutors charged at least 50 people involved in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme to get unqualified children into elite universities. Justice served, right? Not exactly. The unfortunate truth is that white-collar crime has always been relatively low-risk, high-reward in the United States—and under the Trump administration it’s become an even better racket. Grifting has entered a new golden age. A new case-by-case analysis of Justice Department data shows that white-collar crime prosecutions have dropped to an all-time low this year. The government reported only 337 new prosecutions in January, a 20 percent drop...

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