AP journalists have worked tirelessly across formats and locations to chronicle the stories of immigrant parents and children struggling to reunite after being separated at the border as a result of White House zero-tolerance enforcement policies. Their work paid big dividends last week with exclusive images, videos and stories about separated families and White House policies by reporters Martha Irvine and Michael Tarm, Chicago; Morgan Lee, Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Elliot Spagat, San Diego; photographers Charlie Arbogast, Chicago; and Matt York, Phoenix; and video journalist John Mone, Houston.
Lee, Mone and York convinced a source to let them inside an El Paso shelter where more than 30 immigrant parents were staying while waiting for word about their children. Spagat doggedly worked sources from the border to break news about the impact Trump administration's zero-tolerance tactics. And Irvine and Arbogast obtained exclusive images from one of the signature moments of the family separation crisis – the reunion of a Brazilian mom who'd been separated from her son for a month.
Irvine and Arbogast spent a good part of Thursday, June 28, alone with immigrant Lidia Souza, getting interviews, photos and video ahead of a court hearing the next day in which she got her child back. They also were able to get permission to use a photo from a visit with the child earlier in the week, the first time she had seen her son since their separation. Irvine, who was doing double duty shooting video and reporting for the text story, also was able to watch a video of that reunion for inclusion in the print story.
After a judge ordered the child to be returned the following day, Arbogast, Irvine and Tarm provided multiformat coverage of the news conference in which the mother and child appeared together. Arbogast and Irvine also were able to meet up with Souza and her attorney at their hotel – the only journalists allowed to do so. Arbogast got more exclusive photos as the family explored Chicago.
On the same day, Lee, Mone and York were the first journalists to get into a shelter near the border in El Paso that housed several immigrants who were separated from their children. Inside, they asked several immigrants from Central America to describe their ordeal as they waited around a phone for calls about their children, sent for vital documents from Central America and got on buses to stay with family members in hopes of reunited with their children. The result was compelling all-formats coverage of the story that was prominently used in newspapers in New Mexico, Texas and beyond.
On Sunday, Spagat was the first to report on the June border apprehension numbers that were an important indicator of the success of the White House's zero-tolerance policy of separating families. Fox News did a segment on the numbers, and Bloomberg credited the AP in its own piece.
The reunion of the Brazilian mother was the lead story on APNews, and the APNewsbreak on the story was liked more than 2,000 times from the AP Twitter feed.
For exclusive multiformat coverage of families affected by immigration policy, and for expanding AP's reach on this closely watched story, Irvine, Lee, Tarm, Spagat, Arbogast, York and Mone share this week's Best of the States award.