Manuel Madrid

Manuel Madrid is a writing fellow at The American Prospect

Recent Articles

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...

Virginia’s Power Broker

A legislative power grab and a controversial pipeline project have drawn new scrutiny of Dominion Energy.

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
For decades, Dominion Energy has been one of the key generators of both electric and political power in Virginia. The top corporate political donor in the state, Dominion has benefited from a sweetheart rate structure that keeps profits higher than the national average for electric companies. Among the company’s allies are Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic nominee to succeed him, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, as well as many key Republicans. Now, however, a popular backlash is building against Dominion’s political giving and its inside legislative influence, compounded by a controversial pipeline project. Dominion could become the symbol of the anti-corporate sentiment that has been strong in the base of both political parties since the 2016 election. Dominion, once known as the Virginia Electric Power Company (VEPCO), produces about two-thirds of the electric power in the state. Nominally, deregulation of electric power created consumer choice...