Joel Rose

In 1968, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were at the top of their game. Aretha Franklin released two great records. The Kinks, The Byrds and Van Morrison put out some of their best work, too.

The secretary of homeland security is traveling to the Texas border town where an 8-year-old migrant from Guatemala was detained before dying in U.S. custody the day before Christmas.

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The caravan of migrants making its way across Mexico may be thousands of miles from Tennessee. But it's not far from voters' minds.

"That's one of my deepest concerns," said James Harrell of Shelbyville. "We have no idea who these people are, what countries they're coming from."

Hurricane Michael was especially brutal to the working-class suburbs just east of Panama City, Fla., where communities that were just scraping by before the storm now face a daunting recovery.

"This side of town is a poor side of town, and we are usually the last to get the services," said Matilda Conway, who stayed during the storm with her husband and her dogs in Springfield, Fla.

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The over-budget spending on ICE Air that John just described is just one of the extra costs of the immigration crackdown throughout the federal government, and NPR's Joel Rose has been tracking that spending. Hi there, Joel.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

The Trump administration says it wants to move to a "merit-based" immigration system — one that gives priority to immigrants who speak English and are highly educated.

But critics say that rhetoric is at odds with the administration's actions.

"Show me any policy that's come out so far that has actually made it easier for highly skilled immigrants," says Doug Rand, who worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama.

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In May, Lourdes walked across the bridge from Mexico to El Paso, Texas, and requested asylum. The first step is an interview with an asylum officer.

"I told him that I have the evidence on me," Lourdes said, through an interpreter. She told the asylum officer about the scar on her arm, and the four missing fingers on her left hand — all evidence, she says, of a brutal attack by a gang in her native Honduras.

But the asylum officer rejected her claim.

"I don't know what happened," Lourdes said. "I don't know how I failed."

A week ago, Yeni Gonzalez was in an immigration detention center in Arizona more than 2,000 miles from her children.

On Tuesday, the 29-year-old stood outside the social services agency in New York City where she had just seen her kids for the first time in 45 days, clutching a blue and white lollipop in her hand.

"I feel very happy because I just saw my children, and my daughter gave me that lollipop," Gonzalez said in Spanish.

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In South Texas, pediatricians started sounding the alarm weeks ago as migrant shelters began filling up with younger children separated from their parents after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Updated at 11:19 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is imposing sharp new limits on who can get asylum in the United States, ruling in a closely watched case that most migrants fleeing domestic abuse or gang violence will not qualify.

"Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face every day all over the world," Sessions said Monday in a speech before immigration judges in Virginia.

Protesters gathered in more than two dozen cities across the country on Friday to condemn the Trump administration's practice of separating immigrant parents and children at the Southern border.

At least 600 children were taken from their parents last month as part of the administration's crackdown on illegal immigration.

"The stories are horrific," said Jessica Morales Rocketto, with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who helped organize the protest in Washington, D.C.

The Trump administration has been trying to ramp up deportations of immigrants in the country illegally. But one thing has been standing in its way: Immigration judges often put these cases on hold.

Now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering overruling the judges.

One practice that is particularly infuriating to Sessions and other immigration hard-liners is called administrative closure. It allows judges to put deportation proceedings on hold indefinitely.

Friends, family and neighbors were worried about Nikolas Cruz. So were social workers, teachers and sheriff's deputies in two counties.

As classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resumed two weeks after the shooting rampage that left 17 people dead, it is increasingly clear that Cruz, the alleged gunman, was deeply troubled.

Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton all spent Christmas at Camp David. George W. Bush celebrated the holiday there a dozen times — four times when his father was president and eight more during his own time in office.

But Donald Trump is spending the holiday at one of his own resorts, which he seems to prefer.

Trump has spent just a handful of weekends at Camp David during his first year in office. And that is raising questions about the future of the rustic presidential retreat in the Maryland woods.

Can an algorithm tell if you're a terrorist? Can it predict if you'll be a productive member of society?

U.S. immigration officials are trying to answer those questions. They hope to build an automated computer system to help determine who gets to visit or immigrate to the United States.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, wants to use techniques from the world of big data to screen visa applicants. The project would scour all publicly available data, including social media.

But the idea has some critics — including many tech experts — worried.

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Tens of thousands of people will gather this weekend for the Austin City Limits Festival, a two-week music festival about a mile from downtown Austin.

"It's gonna be the safest part of the city to be in during both weekends, just because of the sheer number of officers that will be present," said Brian Manley, the chief of the Austin Police Department, during a press conference this week. Manley said the department will have officers inside and outside the festival, with heightened attention to threats from outside the gates.

The clock is winding down for thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The Trump administration has stopped accepting new applications for the program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that protects nearly 700,000 so-called DREAMers from deportation. Thursday is the deadline for thousands of current DACA recipients to renew their status for what could be the last time.

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This story is part of Kitchen Table Conversations, a series from NPR's National Desk that examines how Americans from all walks of life are moving forward from the presidential election.

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