Manuel Madrid

Manuel Madrid is a writing fellow at The American Prospect

Recent Articles

Mnuchin Fails The ‘Mnuchin Test’

The Treasury secretary trips himself up trying to justify a tax cut that cannot possibly benefit the working class.

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via AP Images
trickle-downers_35.jpg After the populist surge that put Donald Trump in the White House, Steve Mnuchin tried to rebrand himself as a man of the people. He promised that as treasury secretary that he would unburden the working class and that the rich shouldn’t expect any sort of preferential treatment. Many observers were very skeptical of these promises—and for good reason. Appearing on Meet the Press this week, Mnuchin had been tasked with defending the Republicans’ new tax framework . But he couldn’t really explain it. Mnuchin repeated like a mantra that the “objective” of the tax plan was a “middle-income tax cut” and not a tax cut for the wealthy. Given that he had few real details to offer, Mnuchin could avoid both making promises and giving straight answers, while doubling down on his own dubious projections of how the plan would play out for Americans. But despite his best efforts, he was unable to avoid being caught out on one...

States Take on Student Debt Abuses as the Trump Administration Defaults

While the administration rolls back the weak protections that exist, more than a dozen states have proposed reforming the largely unregulated student loan industry.

Chris Radburn/Press Association via AP Images
Student loan-servicing companies are an underappreciated part of a debt-for-diploma system that has badly failed college students and graduates. The loans themselves are a mix of direct federal loans, state loans, and private ones guaranteed by the government, but virtually all payments are collected by loan servicers. These companies, as for-profit middlemen, can pile on unnecessary costs to indebted students and steer them to act against their own self-interest. The Obama administration sought to rein in abuses, issuing policy guidelines for loan servicers and allowing relief for students who were misled by for-profit colleges—but stopped short of formally regulating the loan-servicing industry. Earlier this year, the largest of the nine loan-servicing companies, Navient Corp, formerly part of lender Sallie Mae, became the target of lawsuits from consumers, state attorneys general, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). With the Trump administration now...

Silk Roadblock

Yo-Yo Ma's celebrated project for global understanding through music runs into Donald Trump's sour note.

Max Whittaker/Silk Road
Max Whittaker/Silk Road Silk Road musicians like Kinan Azmeh, performing here with Cristina Pato, have had their ability to travel freely impeded by American and British immigration authroities. This article appears in the Summer 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . In 2000, the revered cellist Yo-Yo Ma embarked on a project that would today seem quixotic: uniting a group of musicians from every corner of the globe, with the goal of using music to transcend national and cultural boundaries. He couldn’t have imagined then how radical a statement the simple existence of the Silk Road Ensemble would soon become. Silk Road joined together virtuoso musicians on instruments from different cultures that had never before been played together. These include the pipa and sheng from China, the Galician bagpipes, the oud from the Middle East, and more than a dozen others. Artistically, the result is astonishing. Culturally, the message is that appreciating “...

Can a Revamped Farmworker Visa System Prevent Abuses?

Foreign nationals who work on American farms remain vulnerable to exploitation by employers who rely on a temporary agricultural visa employment program.

(AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez/Austin American-Statesman)
Four years is a long time to suffer the indignity of unpaid wages and miserable housing. But Martin bit his tongue. A Mexican citizen, Martin came to the United States on an H2A temporary visa for seasonal agricultural workers. Martin’s contract specified that he would be housed and work on a central Texas cattle ranch for $10 an hour. But when he arrived at his destination, there was no ranch, no cattle, and no housing. Instead, the company that recruited Martin and other workers required them to drive out to the mountains near the state’s southwestern border to build barbed-wire fences for $65 dollars a day. Despite freezing nighttime temperatures, he had no choice but to sleep in his pickup truck or an open-air shack. But almost anything was better than working back in Mexico, where the daily minimum wage is 80 pesos (about $4). He didn’t mind the tough work or the harsh conditions, but as abuses started to pile up, Martin, who took the job to provide for his wife...

Trump’s Travel Ban Is Back

After months of confusion, refugee resettlement agencies brace themselves for the limited travel ban.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
A limited version of President Trump’s controversial travel ban is back in place after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could impose restrictions on certain foreign travelers and refugees. The constant back-and-forth rulings have created a bureaucratic nightmare for those involved in the refugee resettlement process, and Thursday’s developments promise even more disruption. While President Trump proclaimed victory, refugee and human rights advocates have been on tenterhooks this week . The high court’s decision was certainly a blow to opponents of the ban, but just how hard that blow is will depend on the Trump administration’s next moves. The government’s new guidelines would significantly limit the total number of noncitizens and refugees that can enter the country, according to a State Department background briefing Thursday afternoon. The department released its guidance just four hours before the ban is scheduled to go into effect...