Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Renewing America

Renewing America

The U.S. Immigration Debate

Authors: Danielle Renwick and Brianna Lee

Comprehensive immigration reform has eluded Congress for years, moving controversial policy decisions into the executive and judicial branches of government, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in Immigration; United States

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Spending on research and development is cited as important to a globally competitive economy. But a crucial U.S. advantage appears to be eroding.

See more in United States; Innovation

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Authors: Zachary Laub and Jonathan Masters

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has capitalized on Iraq's Sunni minority's alienation from the state, driven by sectarian politics and heavy-handed approaches to security, to wreak havoc and establish zones of authority while expanding its reach into neighboring Syria.

See more in Terrorism; Iraq

Hamas

Author: Zachary Laub

Hamas is the main Palestinian armed resistance group, but the Islamist movement has struggled with governance since assuming control of Gaza.

See more in Israel; Palestine; Terrorism

Boko Haram

Authors: Mohammed Aly Sergie and Toni Johnson

Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram has evolved from a local insurgency to a brutal militant group that the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

See more in Nigeria; Radicalization and Extremism

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Income inequality is generating high-level attention and debate in the United States, but the causes are complex and the policy remedies so far are modest, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Poverty