An Ecuadorian migrant is so desperate to make ends meet, she sells churros and candy in a subway station for nine hours a day, seven days a week – all with her tiny, three-month-old daughter strapped to her back.
Many of the nearly 50,000 migrants who have come to New York City so far during the asylum-seeking crisis are often seen hustling for a buck with their small children in tow — but little Danna might be the youngest yet.
“I have to bring her with me,” Danna’s mom, 32-year-old Nataly, insisted to The Post.
Nataly came to the Big Apple by plane from Texas almost four months ago along with her husband and the couple’s 10- and 13-year-old sons.
The family came to New York seeking refuge from their crime-ridden homeland — but so far, it’s been a struggle to survive, Nataly, who declined to give her last name, said.
“If I don’t [sell churros], then my kids won’t have food to eat,” she said in Spanish at the Times Square station.
Nataly, her sons, and her then-unborn baby were abandoned by her husband of 14 years for another woman within days of their arrival in New York.
“He left me while I was eight months pregnant, and with only a single dollar,” Nataly recalled with tears streaming down her cheeks.
Danna was born at Bellevue Hospital on April 10. The new mother-of-three was back to hawking churros just six days later, with the tot swaddled around her torso.
“I need to fight. My kids need me,” she said as little Danna sleepily yawned into her back.
Every morning, Nataly schleps the baby on the subway to East New York, where she buys 100 churros for $45 at a stand – then sells them for two bucks a pop in the Midtown station. They’re usually underground from 10 a.m. to around 6 p.m., Nataly said.
On good days — when she sells out of churros — Nataly walks away with about a $115 profit, she said, which goes toward food for her family and churros for the next day.
When Danna needs to be changed or fed, the pair head back to their single-room dwelling in the Mela Hotel, a migrant shelter on 44th Street, before going back to the subway.
Her sons, Alexis, 10, and Christopher, 13, spend their days inside the hotel or roaming the streets since their Manhattan schools let out for summer break.
The subway station “is too hot for them,” Nataly said. Temperatures in NYC stations rocket during the summers — sometimes hitting up to 100 degrees.
Stacene Maroushek, a practicing pediatrician and pediatric disease specialist at Hennepin Healthcare, a hospital in Minnesota, worries about the health risks Danna could suffer from being in the subway station so much.
“The air quality is worse in the subways…which can cause chronic inflammation in kids’ lungs, give them an increased risk of asthma in the future, as well as some infectious diseases” like Influenza or whooping cough, Maroushek told The Post.
Nataly also has to worry about young thieves.
“The young people that are down here sometimes take my products and run off with them. They scare me, so I let them.
“The other day, one of them knocked over my cart and took all the candy they could. I cried,” she said.
Although Nataly is “thankful” she hasn’t been ticketed yet by cops, she recalled an episode on a Friday last month where a subway officer picked up her box of churros and dumped it in a trash can.
“He told me, ‘You can’t sell these here,’” Nataly said.
Like Nataly, many migrants arriving penniless in New York are doing what they can to make a buck without legal employment.
“I want [the Mayor] to help me with my documents, that’s all I want from them,” she said. “I don’t want to hurt and suffer anymore like we did in Ecuador and now we are here.”