Apr 15, 2021

Axios Sneak Peek

Welcome back to Sneak. President Biden stood in the spot where President Bush launched the war in Afghanistan to declare he would remove U.S. troops by Sept. 11.

Today's newsletter — edited by Glen Johnson — is 593 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Immigration stats belie border plight
Expand chart
Data: Pew Research Center and Migration Policy Institute; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has fallen or flattened after rapid growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to estimates by think tanks like the Migration Policy Institute and Pew Research Center, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

The big picture: The overall number is about 11 million. While the surge in Central Americans trying to cross the border has attracted recent headlines, there has been a steady decline in the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico.

  • These fluctuations mean the current influx and another in 2019 are more likely to change the demographic makeup of the undocumented population, rather than the overall number, MPI's research director Randy Capps told Axios.

Between the lines: In recent years, roughly two-thirds of new, unauthorized immigrants came to the U.S. legally but overstayed their visas — as opposed to crossing the border unlawfully, Capps said.

  • This is especially common among the rising number of unauthorized immigrants from Asian nations.

Of note: It's difficult to get an accurate count of the unauthorized immigrant population. Researchers can use slightly different models, which leads to the disparities seen in the chart above.

2. Veiled attacks rile Virginia governor's race

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new political group in Virginia is taking pains to keep the people behind it a secret, as one candidate in the state's gubernatorial race claims it is buying ads designed to falsely make it look like they're coming from him, Axios' Lachlan Markay writes.

Why it matters: The group, dubbed the Patriot Leadership Trust, has succeeded in hiding the identities of its principals, depriving Virginians of information about the people and interests seeking to sway their votes in a bellwether off-year race.

What's happening: The Patriot Leadership Trust has bought radio ads and direct mail pieces attacking Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity executive vying for the Republican nomination.

  • Its latest direct mail piece, which attacked Youngkin over his ostensible support for the Southern Poverty Law Center, drew condemnation Wednesday from one of Youngkin's rivals, former Republican statehouse Speaker Kirk Cox.
  • Cox accused the Patriot Leadership Trust of attempting to give the false impression the attack came from his campaign, citing similarities in its name and mailing address to those of a PAC affiliated with Cox.

Keep reading.

3. Polish leader says U.S. must show democracy's resilience

Radosław Sikorski. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency and the Jan. 6 Capitol assault are signals that people are “less enamored” of democracy, a former Polish foreign minister who has the ear of the White House and Congress tells Axios' Sarah Mucha.

Why it matters: Radosław Sikorski, currently a member of the European Parliament, said it’s critical democratic countries like the U.S. now showcase their resilience to the world.

  • “You had a heart attack," Sikorski said, "and it’s a signal you need to change your lifestyle.”

Sikorski is no political bystander.

  • Besides heading foreign affairs for a central European nation that was the scene of some of World War II's most gruesome battles and atrocities, he's currently chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with the United States.
  • He visited the White House and Capitol Hill during a trip to the United States this week.
  • He offered his opinion on those issues in private meetings with senior members of the White House and U.S. senators.

Keep reading.

4. Focus group: Red flags for Biden infrastructure plan

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Some swing voters say Biden needs to better explain who'll pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure plan — and that they'll only back bipartisan legislation that's paid for by corporations, not the middle class, Axios' Ursula Perano reports.

Why it matters: These takeaways from our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups offer crucial context for an administration basing much of its legislative strategy on polls showing Americans notionally favor spending on roads, bridges, job training and broadband access.

  • The two April 13 sessions included 13 women and men — from a mix of the most competitive swing states — who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but Biden in 2020.
  • While focus groups are not statistically significant samples like polls, their responses show how some voters in crucial states are thinking and talking about national priorities and expectations for Biden.

Keep reading.

5. Pic du jour

Photog: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden visits the graves of service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan after announcing his withdrawal decision.

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