The Deadline Club has nominated Documented for our meticulous and exhaustive reporting about the Trump administration’s efforts to restructure the immigration courts and its tremendous impact on immigrant New Yorkers. We were also nominated for our coverage of COVID-19’s impact on immigrant New Yorkers, which often drew on the experiences of members of our WhatsApp community.
“At the Mercy of the Courts” and “The Matter of Castro Tum” were two episodes of the Latino USA podcast which followed two cases through the immigration courts, which were reported by Documented co-founders Max Siegelbaum and Mazin Sidahmed as well as Latino USA Producer Alissa Escarce. These episodes were nominated for Radio or Audio Investigative Reporting.
The first episode told the story of Wendy and Elvis, a couple from Guatemala who fled to the United States after they were the victims of extortionists. Elvis was railroaded through the court system and ordered removed by a newly appointed judge who gave him little opportunity to defend himself. The second episode featured Roland Sylvain had his court case reopened after it had been closed for years. These events were triggered by the case of an unaccompanied minor named Reynaldo Castro-Tum. Those episodes were part of a project funded by Type Investigations, where we sent reporters to New York City’s two immigration courts every day for 90 days to record what they saw.
From the moment the City shut down, we knew we had to move quickly to provide information to our WhatsApp community. We began compiling lists of resources, held Q&As with experts on issues like housing rights and health and began reporting out the story tips our audience gave us. We partnered with Univision 41 to fact-check misinformation spreading through WhatsApp. We spoke to our readers who told us about how their landlords were threatening them with eviction despite the legal protections in place. We investigated a fund created by the City and Open Society Foundation to provide cash relief to undocumented New Yorkers. This work was nominated for the Newspaper or Digital Local News Reporting award.
We are thankful to the many reporters who helped these stories and projects come into fruition, including:
Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo, Kevin Dugan, Rebekah Ward, Jose Pagliery, Hannah Beckler, Irene Spezzamonte, Ralph Ortega, Irene Tang and Grace Moon