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U.S. Will Police Exploitation Of Young Migrant Workers

The Biden administration announced a wide crackdown on the labor exploitation of migrant children around the U.S., including aggressive investigations of companies benefiting from their work, says the New York Times. The development came days after the Times published an investigation into the explosive growth of migrant child labor. Children, who have been crossing the southern border without their parents in record numbers, are ending up in punishing jobs that flout child labor laws. The White House laid out new initiatives to investigate child labor violations among employers and improve the basic support that migrant children receive when they are released to sponsors in the U.S. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, called the situation “heartbreaking” and “completely unacceptable.”

As part of the new effort, the Department of Labor said it would target not just the factories and suppliers that illegally employ children, but also the larger companies that have child labor in their supply chains. Migrant children often use false identification and find jobs through agencies that do not verify their Social Security numbers. Companies have avoided fines by blaming those agencies or other subcontractors when violations are discovered. “Too frequently, employers who contract for services are not vigilant about who is working in their facilities,” the Labor Department said. The department will explore using a “hot goods” legal provision that allows it to stop the interstate transport of goods when child labor has been found in the supply chain. The Times found products made with child labor in the supply chains of major brands and retailers, including Ben & Jerry’s, Fruit of the Loom, Ford, General Motors, J. Crew, Walmart, Whole Foods and Target. In Grand Rapids, Mi., children worked late nights at plants operated by Hearthside Food Solutions, which makes and packages food for other companies, including General Mills, Frito-Lay and Quaker Oats.

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