By Lohud – Published June 2, 2022 | Updated June 15, 2022

Finding work wasn’t a problem when Natividad Aguilar arrived in the United States 15 years ago from her little mountainous town in Guerrero, Mexico. 

The problem was getting paid. 

In a story familiar to many recent immigrants in New York, she had to put in more than 40 hours a week as a housecleaner to make ends meet, at low wages and irregular schedules she couldn’t control. In an industry rife with exploitation and gray-market jobs, overtime and benefits were distant dreams. 

“We worked a lot and sometimes weren’t paid all the work hours,” Aguilar said through a translator. “There was a lot of salary theft.” 

These days she still works as a housecleaner. But her situation, she said, couldn’t be more different. Aguilar sets her own hours. She chooses which jobs she takes. She’s paid more than twice what she used to get, as much as $25 an hour. And perhaps most important, she has time to spend with her children. 

“I’ve changed a lot as a person and as a businesswoman,” she said. Read more: