Laura Smitherman is Deputy National Editor for NPR News. She oversees breaking news and enterprise reporting from the eastern half of the United States, and she is the lead editor on immigration coverage. The National Desk covers the biggest issues facing the nation in collaboration with member stations around the country. Our reporters cover a range of beats, including national security, climate, race and identity, gender, criminal justice, state government and addiction.
NPR's immigration coverage has been honored by the Radio Television Digital News Association with the Edward R. Murrow Award for continuing coverage three years in a row, most recently for reporting on the Trump administration's Remain in Mexico policy and its impact on migrants. That body of work also has been named a finalist for an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.
Prior to joining NPR in January 2017, Smitherman worked at The Baltimore Sun as the assistant managing editor for enterprise and investigations. In that role, she oversaw a news operation and investigative team that was honored by the National Press Club, the American Society of News Editors, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Online News Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and other organizations.
The Sun also was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Freddie Gray's death from injuries suffered in police custody and the riots that followed. In addition, The Sun collaborated with CNN on an hour-long special report on Gray's death. Other award-winning projects chronicled police brutality and excessive use of Tasers, Baltimore students who were refugees and immigrants fleeing violence around the globe and the impact of gun violence on the city's youngest residents.
Before becoming an editor, Smitherman was a reporter for 15 years. At The Sun, she covered Maryland politics and business. She previously covered Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission for Bloomberg News in Washington, where she was among the finalists for a Gerald Loeb Award for "September 11: The Day Terrorism Changed Wall Street." Smitherman began her journalism career as a legal affairs reporter at the El Paso Times in Texas.
The "Remain in Mexico" program is a key part of the Trump administration's plan to turn back a crush of migrants at the southern border, and it's a historic shift in how the asylum system works.
President Trump announced the secretary's departure amid a 10-year high in illegal border crossings. The two reportedly clashed as Nielsen was unable to stop flows of migrants entering the U.S.
Two memos, signed by Secretary John Kelly, greatly expand the number of immigrants prioritized for removal. The rules do not affect "Dreamers" — people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.