“After nearly 30 years in the United States, Liliana Olayo has personally experienced how those systems have neglected her, she told researchers. She immigrated to Chicago from Mexico when she was 17 and often felt cast aside.
Olayo took classes to learn English and get her GED, and her eldest son went to university on a scholarship. But her family struggles with low wages, and the additional challenge of keeping wages low enough to be able to access public assistance.
Earning above the threshold for those programs doesn’t mean her problems magically disappear, said Olayo, 50.
‘It’s a way to maintain us in that cycle without seeing the hope that I will be able to have money and I will be able to go on vacation with my kids or I can save for my kids,’ she said. ‘You have resign yourself that you need to live in this level of poverty forever.'”
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