Under the rumbling No. 7 line el along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights hangs the red, blue and yellow sign of the Ecuadorian consulate. Clusters of down-and-out men sit on the sidewalk around the sign, waiting for a job that never comes. Most haven’t worked in weeks – or months, in some cases.
The immigrants’ usual living arrangement of two to three people per apartment is now closer to seven or eight as they struggle to pay the rent. Some can’t afford housing and become homeless. Those without documentation hesitate to seek social services and must often ask their families in Ecuador for money.
“If I’m going to starve, I’m better off starving in my country,” said Patricio Garces, an Ecuadorian-born U.S. citizen who plans to return home this year.