Migrant children selling candy and beverages, another face of the migrant crisis

Migrant children selling candy and beverages, another face of the migrant crisis
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NEW YORK (PIX11)—Migrant children acting as street or subway vendors are becoming a common sight in New York City.

Selling fruits, candy, beverages, and other snacks.

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PIX11 News met a mother and her 7-year-old daughter selling water at the steps of the entrance to the Columbus Circle.  They migrated from Ecuador three months ago.

Mom told us in Spanish they live in a migrant shelter, and this is the only way they can make some money to send back home.

PIX11 News also witnessed NYPD Officers instructing a mom and her 6-year-old daughter to move away from the steps of Bryant Park, where they were selling water and soda. 

“They told me I have to move,” said the also Ecuadorian mother in Spanish.

Whether accompanied or alone, children of all ages are doing this type of labor.  Even more heartbreaking to see mothers that are carrying their babies on their backs.

“I saw that in Mexico. I saw that in Colombia. So sometimes people bring their culture, and how practices are done, into the city,”  stated Mayor Eric Adams during a press conference at the beginning of April, when he appointed multiple agencies to tackle this problem.

“We have worked on comp cards, flyers, and then we went to translate them into Spanish.  We are distributing them in the subway, above ground, so this week, we are really starting with that mass distribution. And in all the shelters where new arrival families are and our brothers and sisters in school and early childhood centers,” answered Anne Williams-Isom, NYC Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, when asked if any progress has been made in the last four weeks.

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“First, you are not supposed to be panhandling in the subway, so let me say that clearly.  Whether or not it is safe or a risk to your child, I think we would have to make a determination about that, but I don’t think that’s what we think is unsafe. What we think is unsafe sometimes is children by themselves or families or moms in traffic,” she added.

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said that over 190,000 migrants have come to NYC since the spring of 2022. Of these, 19,000 are children in the Department of Education system. Then there are those who are younger than school-age children.

PIX11 News met a mother with her 2-year-old son who was selling fruits in Jackson Heights, Queens. We asked her where and who she was getting the merchandise from. She responded by saying, “A friend referred me to a man, but I cannot tell you who that man is.”

“Are people being exploited? And is there somebody out there who is giving them, whether it is water, candy, or fruits to these folks in order to do it. I know that the NYPD been looking to that.  We are concerned about trafficking,” Said Williams-Isom.

Human trafficking is a major concern to Council Member Francisco Moya. Jackson Heights is part of his district.

“We have a real epidemic here in this area. Truly, I believe is the epicenter of where human trafficking is been happening,” stated Moya.

He added that child street vendors have been seen outside of businesses, such as bars, next to women who are offering erotic massages.

“What we are seeing on Roosevelt Avenue is the decay of our wellbeing, society. The open-air prostitution that we never encountered here in the city of NY.”

Moya believes that the migrant crisis has exacerbated this situation.

Mayor Eric Adams continues to share this message: “We want to make sure that people understand that children should be in school.”

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