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Migrants Left Selling Candy, Water as They Are Unable to Obtain Work Permits

Some migrants in Chicago have been forced to sell anything they can on the street just to survive – you may have seen them selling candy or bottled water.

They told CBS 2’s Marybel González Monday night that they have no choice because of rules that bar them from applying for jobs.

The Magnificent Mile is known for its luxury shops. But recently, it is a place where some – like newly-arrived migrant Maria – come to sell simpler things, like candy, just to get by.

To protect her identity, we did not show Maria’s face.

“Asi me toca vender para darle de comer a mis hijos,” or, “So I have to sell to feed my children,” Maria said.

Maria is one of more than 11,000 people who have arrived in Chicago last year – and like so many, she had to cross rives and jungles just to get here.

“Los pescados – ese nos salvava a nosotros,” or, “The fish, they saved us,” she said.

Maria shared with us her journey of running out of food and feeding from dumpsters and fish from the streams. The sols of her almost-2-year-old’s shoes wore out from the walking, and her 7-year-old almost drowned in the process.

It was all to escape crime and poverty in her home country of Ecuador.

“Mucho sufrimiento de lo que teniamos,” or, “A lot of suffering from what we had,” Maria said.

But life in the U.S. hasn’t been easy either, Maria said. Her family shares one room, and her kids sleep on the floor.

Her only source of income comes from sitting on a street corner and selling candy and water – because like those in her situation, federal law does not allow her to work yet, even though she is in the country legally.

Getting a work permit takes a while. Asylum seekers have to wait at least six months before they can even apply – so many of them spend their days at shelters or police stations waiting for that time to come.

And getting that permit after applying can also be delayed – especially since COVID created a backlog, explains attorney Juan Soliz.

Soliz: “Sometimes it takes four months, sometimes It’s six months more before they actually get their card.”

González: “That’s in addition to the six months they’ve already had to wait?”

Soliz: “Yes, in addition to the six months. They can only apply six months after they’ve applied to political asylum, then they can apply to employment authorization.”

That leaves many like Maria depending on good will to get by.

Right now, there is a push at the federal level to streamline work applications and expedite the process – but that has yet to be determined.

Source : CBS News