Melissa Sanchez

Reporter

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Melissa Sanchez is a reporter at ProPublica Illinois who is focused on immigrants and low-wage workers. Her work here examining Chicago’s punitive ticketing and debt collection system helped prompt major city reforms, including the end of driver’s license suspensions for unpaid parking tickets and debt relief.

She previously reported on topics ranging from education to absentee ballot fraud for The Chicago Reporter, Catalyst Chicago, el Nuevo Herald in Miami and the Yakima (Washington) Herald-Republic. She lives in a 1926 brick bungalow on Chicago’s Northwest Side with her husband, their toddler son, and two cats. Habla español.

Obreros “esenciales” de fábricas temen ir al trabajo y no pueden permitirse quedarse en casa

Mientras fábricas y almacenes en Illinois se mantienen abiertos produciendo suministros en medio del brote de coronavirus, obreros dicen que trabajar codo a codo en las líneas de producción y fichar en los escáneres de huellas digitales podrían enfermarles.

“Essential” Factory Workers Are Afraid to Go to Work and Can’t Afford to Stay Home

As some Illinois factories and warehouses stay open making supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak, workers say standing elbow to elbow in production lines and clocking in with fingerprint scanners could make them sick.

Chicago Temporarily Halts Some Debt Collections and Ticketing Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the move to waive late penalties on city debts and stop the booting of vehicles was aimed at helping low-income residents.

A State Senator Had Thousands of Dollars in Ticket Debt. Now She’s Fighting to Make Sure Others Won’t.

Our Q+A with Illinois state Sen. Celina Villanueva, who introduced a bill to end driver’s license suspensions for unpaid red-light tickets.

Tens of Thousands of People Lost Driver’s Licenses Over Unpaid Parking Tickets. Now, They’re Getting Them Back.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Friday to end license suspensions for unpaid parking tickets, affecting nearly 55,000 Illinois motorists. Lawmakers cited ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ Chicago reporting for leading to the new law.

A Half-Million Chicago Drivers Have Unpaid Sticker Tickets, but Only 11,400 Applied for the City’s Relief Program

Advocates for ticket reform say they’re disappointed the city didn’t do more to encourage Chicago motorists to sign up for its debt relief program. The city says more reforms are coming.

Illinois Legislators Vote to End License Suspensions for Motorists With Unpaid Parking Tickets

The measure must still be signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has been critical of how ticket debt harms Chicago motorists.

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.

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