Washington reporter Matt Lee and San Diego reporter Julie Watson teamed up to provide the fastest, most complete coverage of the Trump administration’s announcement that it would resettle no more than 15,000 refugees in 2021, another record low.
Their work began days before the Sept. 30 deadline for a decision. Lee worked sources on his State Department beat, learning that internal discussions were highly fluid and the outcome uncertain. Watson drew on her long experience covering refugees, speaking with advocates and with an Eritrean refugee in the U.S. whose dream of reuniting with his family became more remote as a result of Trump’s decision.
At 11:26 p.m. on the evening of the deadline, Lee received confirmation of the 15,000 cap from the State Department. Watson rushed it to wire, delivering a 700-word story by 12:04 a.m., including a quote of Trump vilifying refugees at a campaign rally that night in Minnesota. A major competitor moved its story at 2:37 a.m., and no one else had a story for hours.