Migrant children
Children will be encouraged to enroll in schools rather than sell candy on the subway AFP

New York City authorities are set to carry out an initiative aimed at deterring migrant children from selling candy on the subway, an image that has become more common over the past year and illustrative of the trying situation many families face even after arriving in the country.

Gothamist reported that the city will start distributing fliers reminding migrant families that unlicensed selling is illegal in the city and can result in fines. They will also have information about the rights of workers and immigrants, as well as access to schools.

Anne Williams-Isom, the city's deputy mayor for health and human services, told the outlet that the information will be given to families when they enter the shelter system. She emphasized the city is not looking to fine migrants and many likely don't know their children, many of whom say they are helping their families afford basic needs, are breaking the law.

A parallel program was also set up this year to increase enrollment of children aged 6 to 16, as state law requires they be in the system.

Advocates, however, have shown themselves skeptical about the initiative given the city's current 60-day limit on shelter accommodation for families, saying it's hard to ensure continued attendance when children could be relocated periodically.

Different outlets have already put their spotlight on migrant children in subways, recounting instances of children as young as 7 or 8 selling candy and highlighting complications to prevent them from doing so.

A march article from The New York Times explained that the Department of Education, for instance, has "attendance teachers" who work to ensure families send their children to school, but they do not go out on patrol. "I think I'll refer you to the N.Y.P.D. on this," a spokeswoman told The Times.

Meanwhile, the Police Department declines to say whether officers are instructed to do anything if they see school-age children selling candy during school hours.

The state's Labor Department said it was "difficult to determine" whether the practice of children selling candy in the subway would violate labor law, which generally "regulates employment relationships (i.e. between employers and employees)."

The city's child welfare agency told The Times that anyone who sees a child in a situation that seems unsafe can call the state child abuse hotline. But the State Office of Children and Family Services, which runs the hotline, said a child selling merchandise or panhandling would not be considered maltreatment or neglect unless there was a specific concern about a possible harm.

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