Over the weekend, the New York Times published a horrifying piece describing how a huge number of unaccompanied immigrant minors have been funneled into exploitative and illegal child labor on behalf of major U.S. corporations:
Migrant children, who have been coming into the United States without their parents in record numbers, are ending up in some of the most punishing jobs in the country, this New York Times investigation found. This shadow work force extends across industries in every state, flouting child labor laws that have been in place for nearly a century. Twelve-year-old roofers in Florida and Tennessee. Underage slaughterhouse workers in Delaware, Mississippi and North Carolina. Children sawing planks of wood on overnight shifts in South Dakota.
Largely from Central America, the children are driven by economic desperation that was worsened by the pandemic. This labor force has been slowly growing for almost a decade, but it has exploded since 2021, while the systems meant to protect children have broken down. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the H.H.S. division responsible for unaccompanied migrant children, has reportedly become “one that rewards individuals for making quick releases, and not one that rewards individuals for preventing unsafe releases.”
The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for ensuring sponsors will support these kids and protect them from trafficking or exploitation. They are failing at their job.
This entire situation is horrifying and must be remedied. Please ask Secretary Becerra to stop rolling back safety protections for these children, and please do whatever it takes to stop child labor from remaining a reality in our country. This should not be who we are. Thanks.
▶ First sent on February 28 by Jess Craven