Jasmine Amoateng and Derrick Amoateng, a pair of first-generation siblings from Ghana, sit in a Hispanic bakery in the South Bronx, New York. Historically a stopping point for immigrants, the area, which has a large number of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexicans, the area has recently seen an influx of West Africans seeking political or economic refuge. Some 32,600 immigrants from West African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Mali live in the Bronx — more than in any other borough, according to the most recent American Community Survey. The 2010 Census estimates 70,000 people born in all parts of Africa live in the borough, a five-fold increase from 1990. Community leaders believe the number could surpass 100,000 if their American-born children and those in the country illegally were counted.

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"What matters, then, given the current rules if the game, is what kind of opportunity the labor market offers to poor workers, and who among them is positioned to seize it."

- Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor Market, by Katherine Newman