WASHINGTON (June 2012) – Sarah Ryley, a writer at The Daily, is the recipient of the 2012 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. The award, presented annually by the Center for Immigration Studies, is intended to highlight good reporting in a field where so much of the coverage is formulaic and mawkish.
Ryley wrote on a part of the Obama administration's weakening of immigration law enforcement that has not been widely covered, namely, increased pressure on rank-and-file immigration officers to rubber-stamp visa applications. She obtained an unpublished internal report that found one-quarter of USCIS agents surveyed reported having been pressured to approve questionable applications. Though this is not unheard of, Ryley noted that "high-ranking USCIS officials said the pressure has heightened after the Obama administration appointed Alejandro Mayorkas as director in August 2009 during an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform, bringing with him a mantra of 'get to yes.'"
This and Ryley's other reporting on the "get to yes" culture in adjudicating immigration applications, including coverage of fraud and the punishment of a whistleblower, have shined a light on a huge weakness in our immigration system, and one that gets little media attention because it isn't related to photogenic border fences.
Michael Volpe, writer for the Daily Caller and keynote speaker at the award ceremony, said of Ryley's reporting, "Sarah was able to insert herself in the middle of the story that many powerful forces were trying to keep hidden. And whistleblowers are, in my opinion, a great tool for investigative reporters, and unfortunately, it’s a tool most journalists don't use nearly enough."
This award is named in memory of Eugene Katz, a native New Yorker who started his career, after Dartmouth and Oxford, as a reporter for the Daily Oklahoman. In 1928, he joined the family business, working as an advertising salesman for the Katz Agency, and in 1952 became president of Katz Communications, a half-billion-dollar firm which not only dealt in radio and television advertising but also owned and managed a number of radio stations. Mr. Katz was a member of the Center for Immigration Studies board until shortly after his 90th birthday in 1997. He passed away in 2000.
Previous winners of the Katz Award are listed at https://www.cis.org/KatzAward.