Homeland Security reporter Colleen Long and White House reporter Jill Colvin have repeatedly put the AP ahead on immigration coverage, but they outdid themselves during an intensely competitive week on the topic.
The week began with President Donald Trump stepping up his threats to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border amid a record surge of migrant families coming to the country, sending Long and Colvin into overdrive with their source reporting. It was becoming clear that the White House was losing patience with the situation at the border, presenting them with a big opportunity to break news about how the administration would react.
They scored three major scoops by the end of the week.
They were first to report that Trump was contemplating naming a “border czar” to oversee immigration issues at the border. Then they broke the news that the White House had withdrawn the nomination of its pick to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one day before he was scheduled to travel to the border with Trump. The scoop was so far ahead that even top officials didn’t know about the news until seeing Long’s reporting. The move to withdraw the nomination was so perplexing to some in the Trump administration that they assumed it was a mistake. A few days later, Long and Colvin delivered a smart piece pulling together the various actions surrounding Trump’s troubles at the border, suggesting that more personnel shakeups were expected. That proved prescient when Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned the next day.
The scoop on the ICE nomination was so far ahead, and so perplexing, that some in the administration assumed it was a mistake.
The stories all received wide play, including use by NBC, CBS, The Washington Post, Axios and many more major outlets. The story about the ICE nomination was included in Politico Playbook. Some outlets didn’t match the story until Friday morning, shortly before Trump confirmed it himself. The weekend piece about Trump’s growing problem on the border was a smash hit in newspapers around the country, appearing on the front page of Sunday papers in 20 states.
For their outstanding work to break multiple stories on a subject that dominated the news cycle, Long and Colvin win AP’s Best of the Week.