Houston-based immigration reporter Nomaan Merchant and Austin-based Paul Weber teamed up to produce a pair of exclusives that capture the confusion and signs of problems at both the U.S.-Mexico border and inside federal immigration agencies in the early days of the Biden administration. Merchant used source work and reporting to find and tell the story of a Cuban migrant who was held in a short-term detention facility with her newborn son twice as long as federal rules generally allow. He worked with advocates and the Border Patrol to uncover information about the woman’s case and interviewed her exclusively after her release. The story illustrated how a recent increase in families and children crossing the border has maxed out holding facilities.

In a second exclusive Merchant paired with Weber after a tweet from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, breaking a story on the near-release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement of three men with convictions for sexually abusing children.

Ap 21012825389255 Hm Border 2000I

An older section of the border wall divides Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, foreground, from Sunland Park, N.M., on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Jan. 12, 2021.

AP Photo / Christian Chavez