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AP hours ahead on long-awaited immigration asylum decision

Migrants rest in a dormitory of the Good Samaritan shelter in Juarez, Mexico, March 29, 2022. The vast majority of people staying at the shelter are women and their children from Mexico and Central America who have been expelled under Title 42 asylum restrictions or were still waiting to try for asylum, according to the shelter’s director. AP revealed that the Biden administration is lifting the limits that were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo / Christian Chavez)

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Reporters Colleen Long, Jason Dearen and Elliot Spagat broke the news hours ahead of the competition that the Biden administration would end the asylum limits at the U.S.-Mexico border that were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For more than a year, the administration faced growing questions — and pressure — over when it would end a Trump-era rule that has resulted in migrants being expelled at the border without a chance to seek humanitarian protection.

The clean beat was the product of years of source development and seamless leveraging of reporting between three teams: Long from the White House, Dearen from the investigative team and Spagat on the immigration team. Spagat had flagged that a decision was imminent and had full prep ready to go regardless of what Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided. The trio of reporters traded tips back and forth over a series of hours until they had enough to go to the wire, with Washington’s Mike Balsamo and Zeke Miller contributing reporting along the way.

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A pair of migrant families from Brazil passes through a gap in the border wall to reach the United States to seek asylum after crossing from Mexico in Yuma, Ariz., June 10, 2021. – AP Photo / Eugene Garcia

The spot news break was bracketed by a series of smart stories showing AP’s depth of expertise on immigration matters: Days earlier an Only on AP piece from Caroline Ghisolfi and Spagat reported that COVID infection rates among migrants had plunged along the border. And for three days after the news break,AP stayed consistently ahead.
Stories included:
— Giovanna Dell’Orto reported from Ciudad Juarez,Mexico, on the reaction of migrants who were holed up in shelters
— Jonathan Cooper and Anita Snow in Phoenix looked at the potential electoral consequences for vulnerable Democrats.
— Long and Chris Megerian in Washington reported on the fallout for Biden.

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