photo of Melissa I.M. Torres
Melissa I. M. Torres
Affiliated Scholar
Justice Policy Center
Llegamos hasta aquí para gritar, juntos con todos, los ya no, que nunca más un México sin nosotros. - La Comandanta Ramona

Melissa I. M. Torres is an affiliated scholar in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute; a research scholar at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University; and adjunct faculty at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she received her MSW and PhD and cofounded the college’s Latin American Initiative.

Torres is an international expert and consultant on exploitation and human trafficking, with a focus on displacement vulnerabilities and risks in the Latin American diaspora. She developed and taught classes on human trafficking, human rights, and policy at the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, and Yale University. Torres is part of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Expert Network and serves as the human trafficking expert for academic studies and programs in the US and Latin America. She was the deputy director for the American Red Cross Latino Engagement Team during its founding. She has presented, trained, and testified on migration, border militarization, racism, and other human rights violations for the United Nations Human Rights Council, the US State Department, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Her work has been published in textbooks on human trafficking and human rights both in the United States and Mexico.

Research Areas
Race and equity
Environmental displacement and migration
Families with low incomes
Human trafficking
Immigrant children, families, and communities
Immigrant communities and racial equity
Immigrant-serving organizations
International policy analysis
Intimate partner violence
Latinx communities
Mixed-status immigrant families
Mental health
Sexual violence
Social determinants of health
Structural racism
Workers in low-wage jobs