Nov. 01, 2019
Best of the States
Experience, persistence pay off with breaking news: US to collect asylum seekers’ DNA
Immigration and Homeland Security reporter Colleen Long’s ears perked up in early October when she heard agency officials mention “CODIS” as they briefed reporters on the likelihood they would expand their practice of collecting DNA from migrants.
CODIS, she knew from experience, was an FBI database usually associated with violent crimes, so Long was surprised to hear of its use in connection with migrants whose only crime was crossing the border illegally. Long followed up with detailed questions at the briefing but didn’t get answers, so she kept pressing officials.
Her persistence was rewarded with an advance briefing on the new rule, and additional details about how the DNA policy would be implemented. Long’s story moved hours ahead of the official announcement, becoming one of the most-read stories of the day.
For making the early connection to the policy implications of the DNA database, then pressing the issue with officials until she had the exclusive details, Long earns this week’s Best of the States award.