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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

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

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Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.