At dusk in Los Angeles, Maria, 15, waits for word on her plea for asylum from extortion and gang threats in El Salvador. Alexis Kenyon for the Center for Public Integrity
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A Center for Public Integrity project with KQED Radio’s “The California Report” and Public Radio International’s “The World” on the life and death struggle for asylum in America has been awarded the Child Welfare League of America’s (CWLA) Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism on Behalf of Children and Families.

The award recognizes reporters Susan Ferriss and Amy Isackson for their investigation into the struggles of Central American minors trying to prove they qualify for asylum in the U.S. The stories detailed how an overworked network of pro bono lawyers attempted to document abuses in the young applicants’ home countries in the face of threats, corruption and poor record-keeping. The pieces demonstrated how minors face the same legal and technical challenges that adults face in these proceedings, and how, like adults, they are not entitled to appointed legal counsel. The stories also raised questions about how children would be affected by congressional proposals designed to cut off foreign minors’ access to volunteer counsel before children can agree to be returned to home countries.

The Anna Quindlen Award is given to journalists in both print and broadcast who have provided constructive, informative reporting that advances awareness, understanding and action to meet the needs of children and families who are vulnerable.

The Child Welfare League of America is the nation’s oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization founded in 1921.

The awards will be presented during CWLA’s national conference in Washington, DC in April.

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