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Biden's immigration play, failing students, eye on debates

With Midterm Matters, we are counting down to the US midterm elections on Nov. 8 by separating the signal from the noise on election-related news.

Biden’s pre-midterm immigration play

The number of Venezuelan migrants arriving at the US southern border has plummeted by 90% since President Joe Biden invoked Title 42 (a Trump-era law allowing the expulsion of asylum-seekers on public health grounds) earlier this month.

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Ukrainian fighters from the Azov Regiment searched and guarded by Russian troops in Mariupol.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Putin’s propaganda, new Iran-Israel feud, Title 42 tussle

Putin’s new (propaganda) weapon

Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, not Russia’s Vladimir Putin, has waged a winning “information war.” Zelensky’s video speeches to foreign governments, the UN, and on Monday to the World Economic Forum at Davos have brought his country substantial military, economic, and political support. Stories like Monday’s anti-war resignation of a senior Russian diplomat and the highly publicized conviction of a Russian soldier for a war crime further boost Ukraine’s momentum. But last week’s surrender of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from a Mariupol steel plant gives Russia a new propaganda weapon Putin could use for weeks or months to come. Many of the captured fighters belong to the Azov Regiment, a group with a history of ultra-nationalist, white-supremacist politics. While Ukraine’s government says it wants to recover these soldiers in exchange for captured Russians, a leader of pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists said Monday that all these prisoners should be tried for war crimes in Donetsk. A highly publicized trial of Ukrainians as right-wing war criminals won’t change many minds on either side about the war itself, but it could provide Putin a powerful distraction from a season of bad news for Russia.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Bracing for a surge at the US-Mexico border

The Biden administration is preparing to lift Title 42, a Trump-era immigration rule that allows the US to immediately turn away asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border because of the public health crisis. Since it was first enforced in March 2020, the measure has been used to expel around 1.7 million people, accounting for more than 50% of those who crossed the border illegally in 2021. Authorities are bracing for up to 18,000 border crossings per day when the Biden administration lifts the public health order on May 23. We take a look at encounters between border patrol agents and migrants at the southern US border from 2019 to 2022.

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