With the 2020 election likely to shape the direction of U.S. immigration policy, this AP all-formats team examined the profound ways President Donald Trump has altered the immigration system in America.

President Donald Trump has altered the immigration system arguably more than any U.S. president, meaning this year’s election could have major implications for future immigration policy and for those trying to enter or stay in the U.S.

In the run-up to the election, AP’s immigration team unraveled four key policies that have upended lives: reduced refugee numbersrestrictions on international students, a virtual shutdown of asylum and the curbing of legal immigration

Spearheaded by San Diego-based immigration team leader Elliot Spagat, reporters and visual journalists used unmatched source work and the breadth of AP’s global footprint to find would-be refugees who are stuck overseas, speak to migrants on the record about trying repeatedly to cross into the U.S., score a rare interview with Trump’s lead immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, and nab extensive interviews with the chiefs of the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Spagat, along with Chicago-based reporter Sophia Tareen, Phoenix’s Anita Snow and San Diego’s Julie Watson, wove together the stories of people affected by immigration policy, including an Iraqi woman whose father helped the U.S. military but can't get her refugee case approved. The AP team used data and interviews with officials to give a deeply reported look at how Trump’s policies have pulled America back from its humanitarian role and a diminished its image as a country prized for educational and job opportunities. 

Images from a Border Patrol ride-along by San Diego photographer Gregory Bull and portraits by Daniel Williams in Nigeria, Ted Warren in Seattle, Charles Rex Arbogast in Chicago and Wilfredo Lee in Miami brought the stories to life, along with video by Omar Akour in Jordan and Francois Duckett’s striking graphic on people making repeated border-crossings. 

Graphic Duckett

The stories were widely used online by MSN, Yahoo, ABC News and the San Francisco Chronicle and others, and were featured on the front pages of papers, including the Denver Post and Santa Cruz Sentinel.

For timely, in-depth coverage of immigration issues that likely hang in the balance as the election is decided, the team of Spagat, Tareen, Snow, Watson, Bull and Akour wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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