Patrick Orsagos, Renata Brito, Jake Offenhartz, Gregory Bull and Darron Cummings showed how and why a major influx of Mauritanians is arriving in the United States.
While reporting a story in May, New York-based Offenhartz found it odd that the number of Mauritanians entering the United States had suddenly spiked without a triggering event, such as a military coup or natural disaster.
Soon, a team from around the world helped to discover why. Barcelona-based Brito tapped sources in Mauritania developed during her “Adrift” package about migrants at sea. Columbus-based videographer Orsagos and Indianapolis-based photographer Cummings worked with a community of Mauritanian immigrants in Cincinnati. Other staff along the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout Central America also assisted with the guidance of immigration team leader Elliot Spagat and top stories editor Janelle Cogan.
They found that Mauritanians were learning through social media about a policy that potentially made it easier for them to reach the United States by transiting through Nicaragua. The AP was first to report the trend, and the package including photos from the U.S. border by photographer Bull won play in newspapers across the country.