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Central American migrants traveling toward the U.S. border. Photo: Pepp Companys/AFP via Getty Images

Nothing stirs President Trump’s most radical ideas like immigration. And nothing so stirs his willingness to entertain what some consider illegal or wrong.

Between the lines: People who know Trump well say his obsession is fueled by a combination of goading from Fox, the president's recognition that his signature campaign promise is unmet, and his frustration with restrictions on his power.

Trump doesn't fixate on China, or even the economy, like this:

  • He imposed the Muslim travel ban a week into his presidency.
  • He considered an unconstitutional plan to end birthright citizenship, the right to citizenship for non-citizens' babies who are born here.
  • He focused his campaign on a border wall that proved logistically and financially infeasible.
  • He continued to insist on the wall, leading to the 35-day government shutdown.
  • He threatened to close the southern border, which even Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said would have a "potentially catastrophic economic impact."
  • He wants to move migrants to far-off sanctuary cities run by Democrats.

Think of all the internal relationships that immigration helped sour or destroy (all these are formers): Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, chief of staff John Kelly, economic adviser Gary Cohn — and more.

So why?

  • Trump is genuinely frustrated that two years into his presidency, he hasn't built the wall he promised, and he hasn't reduced the flow of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants into the U.S. In fact, the numbers are going up.
  • The issue is highlighted above all others by the news outlet he focuses on most, Fox News. That raises his blood pressure every day.
  • He can't understand why he's not allowed to have total control over who enters the U.S. across the southern border.

Go deeper: Inside Trump's hardline new border plan

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Go deeper

31 mins ago - World

Putin is challenging Ukraine's "right to exist," Blinken says

Blinken (L) speaks in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: Kay Nietfeld - Pool/Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken put the stakes of a Russian invasion of Ukraine in stark terms on Thursday, saying Vladimir Putin's threat is a direct challenge to Ukraine's "right to exist" as an independent country and a democracy.

What he's saying: “There’s been a lot of speculation about President Putin’s true intentions, but we don’t actually have to guess. He’s told us, repeatedly. He’s laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation," Blinken said during a speech in Berlin.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Jared Kushner wants to Trump-proof his private equity future

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Jared Kushner appears to have convinced the private equity market that he'll stick with his new firm, called Affinity Partners, even if his father-in-law returns to the White House.

The big picture: Private equity is littered with former presidential advisers and cabinet officials, and Trump's is proving to be no different.

2 hours ago - World

Ukraine president to Biden: "There are no minor incursions"

Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded on Thursday to President Biden's suggestion that a "minor incursion" by Russia may not draw the same response as a large invasion, which some in Kyiv saw as inviting Russian aggression.

What he's saying: "We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power," Zelensky tweeted.