Migrant mothers with infants, newly arrived in New York City, are turning to selling fruit and drinks on busy highways and roads in their struggle to earn a living. This dangerous trend is particularly evident at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Myrtle Avenue in Queens where young mothers with babies strapped to their backs have been observed selling fruit and water.
These mothers insist on the necessity of their risky business, as the alternative is an inability to pay rent or buy food. Despite receiving criticism and disapproval from observers, they feel trapped by their circumstances. One migrant woman that was interviewed while selling fruit on the side of the street said, “We don’t want to be on the street. What we want in this country is a real job.”
Most of these women arrived in the U.S. illegally. The Van Wyck Expressway in Queens is another location where these migrant women are resorting to fruit vending to survive. These young women argue they are not engaging in wrongdoing, merely trying to endure their circumstances.
NYC council member Robert Holden has expressed concern about the hazards these women are exposing themselves and their children to, such as toxic fumes and potential accidents. He penned a letter to Mayor Eric Adams, urging the NYPD to intensify their enforcement efforts. Holden also raised concerns about possible exploitation by organized gangs.
In response, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell underscored the department’s goal is not to remedy the situation through summonses or arrests but to achieve voluntary compliance through education and connecting migrants with available city services. Holden, however, remains frustrated, declaring the situation has worsened. He associates the uptick in fruit-selling mothers on the highways with a recent surge of asylum-seeking migrants in the city.
Notably, over the past year, more than 50,000 migrants have landed in New York. Mayor Adams, a centrist Democrat, has been especially critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the migrant situation, accusing the federal government of “failing” the city.