Morris: Illegal Migrant Child Labor Rampant in NYC Subways as Authorities Shrug

It is now routine to see child labor in New York City subways. But the child workers are sacrosanct illegal migrants, so the once-proudly progressive authorities in the city and state now turn away and declare, “not my problem.”

The New York Times came out with a report Wednesday detailing what any New Yorker already knows — that the subways are swarming with children as young as seven years old, slinging candy bars and packs of gum to commuters, sometimes with adults and sometimes alone, engaging in straight up child labor, after their mostly-Ecuadorian families landed in the Big Apple with no resources or connections in the area.

In scenes that are not familiar to people in first world countries but common in the places many of these migrants arrived from, kids are working out in the open, during the week, on hours their peers are all in school, and capitalizing on the sympathy their work elicits to pocket a few extra dollars for their parents.

Migrants wait outside the Roosevelt Hotel hoping for a place to stay on August 02, 2023, in New York City. (Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images).

“‘It’s like a postcard from my country,’ said Soledad Álvarez Velasco, a social anthropologist originally from Quito who researches migration from Ecuador to the U.S. at the University of Illinois Chicago. ‘You will always see women there carrying their children, or with their children around them, selling whatever they can.’ In the U.S., she said, ‘they’re doing exactly what they did at home,’” New York Magazine quotes over the summer in a report on the same issue.

Despite Mayor Eric Adams (D) claiming during a trip to Ecuador in October that “In New York City, we do not allow our children to be in dangerous environments,” according to the Times, scores are, and no one in the city or state governments feel like doing anything about it.

Commendably, the Times writes that it reached out to seven city and state agencies to ask about subway child labor, and all of them claimed it was someone else’s problem.

The Department of Education, the State Labor Department, the Administration for Children’s Services, the State Office of Children and Family Services, all can’t be bothered, according to the Times report.

The Times also claims police, which would be the only authority able to be dispatched quick enough to respond before the children move, are not sent to calls that are not an emergency.

The paper writes:

There are logistical hurdles to addressing the issue. By the time someone called the state hotline and the report was evaluated and passed along to A.C.S., a candy seller could have already moved to a different location. The police can respond more quickly, but they typically are dispatched only in emergencies.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subways, cited its rule against unauthorized commercial activity, which carries a $50 fine, and referred further inquiries to the police and City Hall.

A couple of heavily armed New York National Guard soldiers patrol Grand Central terminal, Thursday, March 7, 2024, in New York. Gov. Kathy Hochul is sending the National Guard to the New York City subway system to help police search passengers’ bags for weapons. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Meanwhile, the unchecked illegality breeds more illegality.

Turf wars are forming over train “territory,” New York Mag said in its report, as more migrants move into the subway to hustle and threaten each other over certain platforms.

“Individuals and families who work in the same areas tend to look out for one another — but they don’t always get along. There are, increasingly, disputes over territory as more take to the trains. ‘That guy over there,’ one young candy-and-beverage seller from Ambato, Ecuador, said along the F train, pointing discreetly to a middle-aged man selling sodas from a cooler of ice farther down the platform. ‘He told us that bad things will happen to us if we keep selling here. That this is his place and no one else’s,’” New York Mag reported.

They are working in an area that is apparently so dangerous that New York governor Kathy Hochul (D) just last week had to put the National Guard in the subway. Those soldiers are doing bag checks for the three million+ commuters who use the underground transit system daily, even as foreign children illegally sell candy around them.

The New York subway has become a microcosm of the way the left has done a 180 from the ideals that built the modern Democratic Party: a system where the military patrols subways, where children are exploited through illegal labor on turf governed by gangs — and the “progressive” party of FDR has nothing to say about it.

Emma-Jo Morris is the Politics Editor at Breitbart News. Email her at or follow her on Twitter.

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