Melissa Sanchez

Reporter

Photo of Melissa Sanchez

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.

La niñez robada de obreros adolescentes

Inmigrantes menores de edad que hacen turnos nocturnos en fábricas suburbanas sueñan con una vida mejor para hijos que todavía no tienen. El padre de la autora hizo lo mismo.

The Stolen Childhood of Teenage Factory Workers

Immigrant teenagers who work overnight shifts in suburban factories dream of a better life for children they don’t yet have. So did the author’s father.

Inside the Lives of Immigrant Teens Working Dangerous Night Shifts in Suburban Factories

During the day, immigrant teenagers attend high school. At night, they work in factories to pay debts to smugglers and send money to family. The authorities aren’t surprised by child labor. They’re also not doing much about it.

El mundo secreto de los adolescentes inmigrantes que trabajan en peligrosos turnos nocturnos en fábricas suburbanas

Durante el día, inmigrantes menores de edad van a la secundaria. Por la noche, trabajan en fábricas para pagar deudas del viaje y mandar dinero a sus familias. El trabajo infantil no sorprende a las autoridades. Tampoco están haciendo mucho sobre el tema.

Trabajadoras temporales luchan contra supuesto acoso sexual y dicen que sufren represalias por hacerlo

El fiscal general de Illinois anunció que había alcanzado un acuerdo con la empresa que establece una supervisión independiente para proteger a las trabajadoras.

Temp Workers Fight Back Against Alleged Sexual Harassment and Say They Face Retaliation for Doing So

The Illinois attorney general announced that he reached a settlement with the company that calls for an independent monitor to protect the workers.

Opioid Overdoses Keep Surging in Chicago, Killing Black People on the West Side

Half of Cook County’s confirmed opioid-related deaths have been among Black residents, even though they make up less than a quarter of the county’s population. Officials warn that the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed the crisis.

I’ve Reported on How Chicago’s Ticketing System Has Hurt Black Residents. Now, the Conversation About Reform Is Changing.

The killing of George Floyd by police has sparked a reexamination of other systems in this country that are also weighted against Black people. Ticketing is one of them.

Police Brutality, COVID-19 and Overdoses in Chicago Follow the Same Deadly Pattern

Our country’s long history of structural racism stands at the center of why police brutality, COVID-19 and the opioid crisis are disproportionately killing black Americans, including in Chicago.

Overdose Deaths Have Skyrocketed in Chicago, and the Coronavirus Pandemic May Be Making It Worse

Opioid-related deaths in Cook County have doubled since this time last year, and similar increases are happening across the country. “If you’re alone, there’s nobody to give you the Narcan,” said one coroner.

¿Qué pasa cuando los obreros que hacen jabón de manos contraen COVID-19? Protestan.

Después de que una trabajadora en una fábrica de productos de belleza cerca de Chicago muriera por COVID-19, sus compañeros armaron una protesta. Pero no solicitaron ayuda de OSHA. Solicitaron ayuda de un nuevo defensor: la fiscalía general del estado.

What Happens When the Workers Who Make Hand Soap Get COVID-19? They Protest.

After a worker at a beauty supply factory near Chicago died of COVID-19, her former co-workers staged a protest. But they didn’t seek help from OSHA. They sought help from a new advocate: the state attorney general’s office.

Al menos 37 menores en un albergue de Chicago para inmigrantes detenidos han dado positivo en pruebas de COVID-19

Un brote de coronavirus en una instalación de Heartland Alliance en la zona sur de Chicago puede ser el brote más grande en cualquier albergue para menores inmigrantes en el país. Al menos 37 menores y dos empleados han dado positivo.

At Least 19 Children at a Chicago Shelter for Immigrant Detainees Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

A coronavirus outbreak at a Heartland Alliance facility on Chicago’s South Side may be the largest outbreak of the virus in any shelter for immigrant youth in the country. At least 19 children and two staff have tested positive.

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.

Follow ProPublica

More from ProPublica