USA: Investigation reveals migrant children working in factories across the US in violation of child labour laws; incl. co. comments
"Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S.," 25 Feb. 2023
... 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, a 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.
... The Times spoke with more than 100 migrant child workers in 20 states who described jobs that were grinding them into exhaustion, and fears that they had become trapped in circumstances they never could have imagined.
... Migrant child labor benefits both under-the-table operations and global corporations, The Times found. In Los Angeles, children stitch “Made in America” tags into J. Crew shirts. They bake dinner rolls sold at Walmart and Target, process milk used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and help debone chicken sold at Whole Foods. As recently as the fall, middle-schoolers made Fruit of the Loom socks in Alabama. In Michigan, children make auto parts used by Ford and General Motors.
... The federal government hires child welfare agencies to track some minors who are deemed to be at high risk. But caseworkers at those agencies said that H.H.S. regularly ignored obvious signs of labor exploitation, a characterization the agency disputed. In interviews with more than 60 caseworkers, most independently estimated that about two-thirds of all unaccompanied migrant children ended up working full time.
... Several, including Ford, General Motors, J. Crew and Walmart, as well as their suppliers, said they took the allegations seriously and would investigate.
... In Worthington, Minn., it had long been an open secret that migrant children released by H.H.S. were cleaning a slaughterhouse run by JBS, the world’s largest meat processor.
... The cleaning company paid a $1.5 million penalty, while JBS said it had been unaware that children were scouring the Worthington factory each night. JBS fired the cleaning contractor.