The Sidney Hillman Foundation has awarded Colorlines.com reporter Seth Freed Wessler with the 2012 Hillman Prize for his “Shattered Families” investigation of the intersection of deportation and child welfare.
Hillman Prizes are awarded to journalists who have demonstrated “excellence in reporting in service of the common good.” Other Hillman Prize winners this year include The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates and The New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman.
Wessler’s investigation “Shattered Families” uncovered a disturbing national trend that’s left over 5100 children stuck in foster care. The investigation found that between January and June of 2011, the United States carried out more than 46,000 deportations of the parents of U.S.-citizen children.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to be awarded the Hillman Prize. The deported and detained parents who agreed last year to tell me their stories face the prospect of losing their children forever. Some already have,” said Wessler. “This investigation establishes that these tragedies are a result of structural failures of law and policy. It’s my hope that the attention it’s received will continue to usher in policy shifts to keep families together.”
Wessler’s investigation has made national headlines (Nightline, AP, CNN, among others), reviewed by policy makers around the country, and even prompted a comment by the President of the United States. In response to a question posed about the lack of due process in the deportation of parents, President Obama called it a “real problem” and said the federal government needs “to make sure that children aren’t torn from their parents without due process and the possibility to stay with their children.”