On a sweltering afternoon last August, Emily Green stood on a bridge straddling the Rio Grande and watched as U.S. immigration agents marched 100 migrants into Nuevo Laredo, one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities.
VICE News had sent her there to document the human impact of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which has forced more than 50,000 asylum-seekers to wait in dangerous Mexican border cities for up to a year as their cases are decided.
Hours after Green interviewed a Honduran man named “David” and his son, the two were extorted by a Mexican border official and then thrown into a van by a cartel, which photographed them, threatened to remove the child’s kidneys, and held them for an $18,000 ransom.
The resulting story, “Trump’s Asylum Policy Sent Him Back to Mexico. He Was Kidnapped 5 Hours Later by a Cartel,” was published on VICE.com and later transformed into an audio piece “The Out Crowd” by This American Life. That audio piece won the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for Audio Reporting.
VICE is thrilled to share this honor with our Mexico City-based contributor Green, the staff of This American Life, the Los Angeles Times, and their immigration and security correspondent Molly O’Toole.
“David” and his child were ultimately released by their captors after his sister in the U.S. wired thousands of dollars into a bank account. But the story of his kidnapping, and those of many others, showed the human impact of the policy of removing destitute asylum-seekers to Mexico, where an industry of extortion and kidnapping provides a new business model for drug cartels.
Cover: Emily Green interviews children militia members in Mexico on assignment for VICE News. (Photo courtesy of Cesar Rodriguez)