It’s a bittersweet start to their American dream.
Hordes of newly arrived South and Central American migrants descend underground to peddle candy at subway stations and on trains across the Big Apple – often with babies strapped to their backs – in order to cope.
Maria Vaca, 25, who had only been in New York for eight days on Friday, said she needed money to pay rent for her cousin in the Bronx where she was staying with her husband and three children. She said she raised $70 on Thursday.
“I was told people were buying candy here,” Vaca said of the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station where she was joined on Friday by her 6-year-old daughter, who clung to her leg, the wide-eyed.
Another mum, who declined to be named and said she was only in town 15 days, sold $2 bags of M&Ms and Skittles at the same station, with her baby girl bundled up and tied in the back.
“Those of us who have just arrived here realized that we could earn money this way,” she said, adding that she could earn up to $80 a day.
The peddlers are part of the tidal wave of newcomers continuing to pour into the Big Apple, a crisis that is straining shelters and transient hotels and could cost the city up to $2 billion . Between June and early January, more than 36,000 migrants arrived in New York.
Newcomers selling candy told the Post they were struggling.
“Some days we have nothing to eat, no money to buy food,” said a tearful mother, whose name was only Alexandra.
His family arrived in New York by bus a week early after making an arduous journey from Ecuador. She said they had been stripped of all their money in Mexico and were staying at a shelter in the Bronx.
Her husband, Arturo, said a kind-hearted shelter worker first gave them a box of candy – worth $100 – to sell. Now the couple and their two nephews are spreading out, taking different trains and spending around nine hours a day trying to earn money.
Alexandra, who had her baby girl strapped to her back as she sold sweets on the C train, said it was difficult to raise enough money to buy more sweets.
“We tell the working woman [at the supermarket]we don’t have the money, we can’t pay, and she will give them to us,” she said.
Patricia Condor, 35, another newcomer from Ecuador who sold chocolate at the Times Square station on Friday, said she arrived here by bus on Tuesday with her husband and three children and the family was staying at a cousin in Brooklyn.
Condor said she bought a box of chocolates with 60 bars for $40 from another migrant and had been at the subway station since 8 a.m. trying to make a profit. By 3 p.m., she had only sold about 10 bars at $2 each.
She said she hadn’t eaten or used the bathroom all day.
“I don’t know where I can get one. It’s too big and overwhelming here. I am doing everything I can and fighting to feed my children,” she said, wiping away her tears. “It’s hard to earn money, to find a job. It’s hard to live here. »
Some straphangers took pity on the sellers.
A woman asked a vendor’s young daughter to help her choose candy. She picked out a bag of M&Ms, then handed the girl three $1 bills and gave her a first bump.
Another commuter at Columbus Circle gave one of the kids $1 with a nod and a smile and walked away without taking any candy.
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