Reporter Laura Morel will spend the coming year covering immigration for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting under a special reporting fellowship focused primarily on migrant children and families.
Morel has been a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times for the past six years, most recently covering criminal courts and legal trends. She was a 2017 finalist for a Livingston Award, which recognizes young journalists, for an investigation with two other reporters into police calls at Walmart. Previously, she covered breaking news for the Bradenton Herald in Florida.
Morel grew up in Miami, where, she says, “everyone was the son or daughter of immigrants” – in her case from Cuba and Honduras. That background, she added, gives her unique insights into “the intricate challenges this country faces with its immigration system.”
This summer, Morel traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border as an Adelante Latin America Reporting Initiative fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation. One of her stories focused on migrants at a temporary shelter in Mexico who were trying to decide whether to cross the border to seek asylum, despite the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
In 2016, Morel became one of Reveal’s inaugural investigative fellows. The program, now in its third year, offers reporters embedded at their home outlets a stipend, training and mentoring from Reveal to pursue an investigative project. It is aimed at increasing diversity among the ranks of investigative journalists.
Morel’s fellowship project exposed the extent of Florida’s gun theft problem. It was published in her newspaper and on revealnews.org and broadcast on Reveal’s weekly hourlong public radio program and podcast.
As Reveal’s immigration reporting fellow, Morel joins a team that includes Senior Editor Ziva Branstetter, reporter Aura Bogado and other journalists who recently have uncovered children being kept overnight in vacant office buildings by a major government contractor, the checkered histories of shelters where migrant children are held and how a doctor prescribing psychotropic drugs at one of the shelters lacked any special accreditation to treat youths.
A graduate of Emerson College in Boston, Morel is fluent in Spanish.