Melissa Sanchez

Reporter

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Melissa Sanchez is a reporter at ProPublica Illinois. She has lived in Chicago since 2014, writing primarily about education for the nonprofit magazine Catalyst Chicago and later its sister publication, The Chicago Reporter. Her stories there looked at the extraordinary costs of allowing private investors to finance public preschool programs, access to higher education for undocumented students and lax enforcement of city and state labor laws, among other issues.

Before coming to Chicago, she reported en español for el Nuevo Herald, the Miami Herald’s Spanish-language sister paper, on everything from rampant absentee ballot fraud and abusive police towing practices to a deadly prison fire in Honduras. And before that, she wrote about immigrants and gangs for the Yakima (Washington) Herald-Republic, and reported from Nicaragua through a fellowship from the Inter American Press Association.

I’m Looking for My Next Story

How searching court records, data and talking to people can spark an investigation. I hope.

Hundreds of Thousands of Chicago Motorists Could Receive Debt Relief From Vehicle Sticker Tickets as the City Expands Reform

Attention, Chicago motorists: You have until Oct. 31 to buy a city sticker and then qualify for a new debt forgiveness program.

Here’s What to Expect From Chicago City Council’s Ticket Reform

Chicago became the largest U.S. city to enact major reforms to its system of parking fines and fees. City officials say more changes are coming.

Chicago City Council Approves Ticket and Debt Collection Reforms to Help Low-Income and Minority Motorists

The measures, which were prompted by a ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ Chicago investigation, are scheduled to take effect by mid-November.

En una Disputa sobre Tutela, los Hijos de un Padre Hispanohablante se Quedarán con sus Padres de Acogida Eslovacohablantes

El caso es un ejemplo que pone en duda si el Departamento de Servicios para Niños y Familias de Illinois sirve adecuadamente a familias hispanohablantes y cumple con el decreto Burgos de la corte federal.

In a Disputed Custody Case, the Children of a Spanish-Speaking Father Will Remain With Their Slovak-Speaking Foster Parents

The case is one example that questions whether the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services adequately serves Spanish-speaking families and lives up to the Burgos federal court consent decree.

Parents Gave Up Custody of Their Children to Help Them Get Financial Aid. Now, Some Are Abandoning That Idea.

Some families are frustrated about a public backlash, saying what they did was legal. They say the real problem is the cost of higher education.

Inside the Illinois House Hearing on the Financial Aid Scandal

Lawmakers described the practice as disturbing, disheartening and shocking.

At Hearing on Financial Aid Scandal, Lawmakers Grill Officials and Look to Close a Loophole

Illinois politicians considered denying admission to students whose families exploited the guardianship law to qualify for aid they wouldn’t otherwise receive, saying it was an “injustice.”

El Departamento de Educación Federal Quiere Frenar la “Trama Fraudulenta de Ayuda Estudiantil” en que Padres Ceden La Custodia a Través de Tutelas Dudosas

Un día después de nuestro reportaje, el inspector general del departamento dice que quiere cerrar los agujeros legales de ayuda financiera.

Padres Ceden La Custodia de Sus Hijos para Conseguir Becas Universitarias Basadas en Necesidad Económica

Primero, los padres transfieren la tutela de sus hijos adolescentes a un amigo o pariente. Después, el estudiante declara independencia financiera para calificar para ayudas monetarias y becas.

U.S. Department of Education Wants to Stop “Student Aid Fraud Scheme” Where Parents Give Up Custody Through Dubious Guardianships

One day after our reporting, the department’s inspector general said it wants to close financial aid loopholes.

Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid

First, parents turn over guardianship of their teenagers to a friend or relative. Then the student declares financial independence to qualify for tuition aid and scholarships.

She’s Risked Arrest by Driving With a Suspended License for Seven Years. This Week She Got Some Big News.

Some 55,000 Illinoisans could regain their driver’s licenses very soon.

Chicago Mayor Proposes Reforms That Would Make Life Easier for Thousands of Black and Low-Income Drivers

After more than a year of reporting from ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced ticketing changes and said she would support legislation to change state law — beginning to make good on a campaign promise.

Legisladores de Illinois Exigen que Funcionarios de Protección Infantil Mejoren Servicios para Familias Hispanohablantes

Oficiales estatales dicen ahora que quieren contratar más empleados bilingües y reclutar más familias de acogida hispanohablantes.

Illinois Lawmakers Demand Child Welfare Officials Better Serve Spanish-Speaking Families

State officials now say they want to increase bilingual hiring and the recruitment of Spanish-speaking foster families.

Inmigrantes Menores Enviados a Albergues de Chicago Están Traumatizados y Enfermos, a veces con Varicela o Tuberculosis

Cientos de menores están siendo detenidos en albergues operados por Heartland Human Care Services, en donde dicen haber hecho cambios a raíz de las acusaciones por negligencia y maltrato a niños.

Immigrant Children Sent to Chicago Shelters Are Traumatized and Sick, in Some Instances With Chicken Pox or Tuberculosis

Hundreds of children are being detained in shelters run by Heartland Human Care Services, which says it has made changes since allegations that children were neglected and mistreated.

Chicago Can’t Hold Impounded Vehicles After Drivers File for Bankruptcy, Court Says

A federal appeals court said the city’s aggressive legal strategy, aimed at discouraging motorists with unpaid ticket debt from filing under Chapter 13, violated the basic protections of bankruptcy, and the city was doing so mostly to generate revenue.

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