Ana Torres

  • Hosted by Roger Baldwin Foundation of American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
  • Sponsored by Lisa Foster and Alan Bersin
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school University of Illinois Chicago School of Law
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Ana advocated for people of color undergoing a cycle of poverty and debt due to government policies such as Chicago’s punitive vehicle impoundment practices, which impose excessive financial penalties and other barriers to success.

Chicago’s fine, fee, and vehicle impoundment practices harm low-income people and disparately impact Black and brown communities. The City charges excessive fines and fees for vehicles and parking. Those who cannot pay face escalating debts due to late penalties, the eventual seizure of their vehicles, and additional, compounding fees, hurting the ability of low-income people to maintain their livelihoods and provide for their families. This project used policy advocacy and impact litigation to help dismantle the City’s practices, which trap low-income people in a cycle of poverty, debt, and unemployment.

The criminalization of poverty through fines and fees is one the most important civil rights issues today—and one where advocates from diverse perspectives can support. As a first-generation immigrant and a person of color, Ana is committed to fighting for racial justice by challenging these practices.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Ana has:

  • Collaborated on an amicus brief on Chicago’s vehicle impoundment practices filed by the ACLU of IL and a diverse array of organizations with the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Chicago v. Fulton
  • Furthered reform of Chicago’s vehicle impoundment program through policy research and drafting to support legislative advocacy for a municipal ordinance enacted by the Chicago City Council
  • As a member of the Transit Table coalition, advocated for suspension of certain Chicago booting, impoundment, ticketing, and collections practices from March to June 2020 due to the economic impact of the early COVID-19 pandemic on Chicagoans
  • As a member of the Fines and Fees Access Collaborative and the Transit Table coalition, advocated for reform of Chicago’s wheel tax license fees, ordinance violation fines, and payment plans
  • Advocated to pass the License to Work Act in Illinois, which ends suspensions for failure to pay

Next Steps

Ana will remain at her host organization through December 2021 while planning for next steps and hopes to remain in public interest.


Recent John Marshall Law School Graduate Ana Torres Selected for Prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship

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