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Family members wait outside the air force base in Guatemala City for the arrival of their relatives who were deported from the United States, July 16, 2019.

AP Photo / Moises Castillo

Washington-based homeland security reporter Colleen Long earned a key scoop – one that set the news agenda for days and left the competition scrabbling to catch up – when a source alerted her to a change in rules for those seeking asylum at the southern border: The rule effectively ended asylum for people coming from Central American countries and changed decades of U.S. policy.

Long’s deep knowledge of immigration policy meant she was alert to the major implications of the lengthy and complex new ruling, and she immediately realized the real-world consequences of the change, which has since been challenged in court.

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A woman sits with her sons as they wait to apply for asylum in the United States along the border in Tijuana, Mexico, July 16, 2019. Dozens of immigrants lined up waiting to learn how the Trump administration's plans to end most asylum protections at the southern border. The policy has since been challenged in court.

AP Photo / Gregory Bull

Following the tip, she also knew that she had a window of opportunity to drive her advantage home before the law was announced early the next morning. She worked late into Sunday evening to prep the story based on what she knew, got more details and guidance from sources, and was in the office early the next morning, ready to file. Then it was a matter of logging into the Federal Register and refreshing her screen until the instant the new rule was posted.

Long’s story caught other news organizations completely off guard and left major outlets, including The Washington Post, to cite the AP for hours as they struggled to catch up in a busy news cycle. Or as Colleen succinctly puts it: “I guess while everyone was looking left, I was looking right.”

For her expertise on immigration policy, diligent reporting and outstanding speed of delivery on a story of vital interest, Colleen Long earns AP’s Best of the Week.