HomeNewsUS vows clampdown on 'alarming' child labor surge

US vows clampdown on ‘alarming’ child labor surge

According to existing laws, the maximum fine for breaking child labor laws is US$15,138 per case

The US government announced plans to clamp down on an “alarming” surge in child labor in the country, where the number of illegally employed minors has jumped by two thirds since 2018.

The uptick in illegal child labor in the United States coincides with a massive influx of unaccompanied children fleeing poverty and violence in Latin America — with 130,000 referred to US government shelters in the last fiscal year alone.

“This is not a 19th century problem — this is a today problem,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a statement, calling for a vast mobilization of resources to tackle the problem.

“We need Congress to come to the table, we need states to come to the table.”

In the course of the last fiscal year, the Department of Labor identified 835 companies employing 3,800 children in violation of the law, and saw a 26 percent rise in children hired specifically for dangerous jobs.

These are “alarming trends,” a senior administration official told a media briefing.

To try to curb the rise, a joint taskforce by the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services — responsible for unaccompanied minors arriving in the country — will seek to improve information sharing between the two agencies.

- Newsletter -

A parallel initiative by the Labor Department will focus on better enforcement of existing laws, especially in regions and industries where offenses are most widespread.

The department also vowed to hold companies accountable if contractors and temp agencies are found to be using child labor.

“Too often, companies look the other way and claim that their staffing agency, or their subcontractor or supplier is responsible,” Walsh was quoted as saying.

According to existing laws, the maximum fine for breaking child labor laws is US$15,138 per case.

“That’s not high enough to be a deterrent for major profitable companies,” said the Labor Department statement.

In the United States, children are allowed to start work at 14, with a limited number of hours for children under 16 in order to allow them to continue to go to school.

Certain dangerous jobs, in factories or slaughterhouses, for example, are off-limits for minors.

A weekend expose by The New York Times reported on an increased presence of migrant minors, some as young as 12 years old, working in sectors across the American economy from car factories to construction sites and delivery services.

© Copyright LiCAS.news. All rights reserved. Republication of this article without express permission from LiCAS.news is strictly prohibited. For republication rights, please contact us at: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Support LiCAS.news

We work tirelessly each day to tell the stories of those living on the fringe of society in Asia and how the Church in all its forms - be it lay, religious or priests - carries out its mission to support those in need, the neglected and the voiceless.
We need your help to continue our work each day. Make a difference and donate today.