biden admin to take bold initiative to eradicate child labor and strengthen laws
After being accused of creating the largest child trafficking ring in US history by the Republicans, the Biden administration is stepping up efforts to stop companies using and exploiting child labor.
The Department of Labor announced last Thursday that it would take more measures to crack down on illegal child labor nationally. This includes strengthening enforcement of child labor laws through new tactics and partnering with other agencies and foreign governments.
Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su said child labor is an issue that gets to the heart of who America is as a country. “Like the President, we believe that any child working in a dangerous or hazardous environment is one child too many.” Escalated enforcement of child labor laws, as per the Wage and Hour Division, resulted in a 44 percent increase in children found employed in violation of federal law between October 1, 2022 and July 20, 2023. In these 10 months, more than 4,000 children were found employed in violation of federal law, wherein the agency is looking into 700 and more child labor cases.
Moreover, there have been reports of underage migrants working dangerous jobs. Rep. Anna Eshoo asked how carefully the HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was vetting the sponsors who were offering to host the children. She asked if ORR is meeting and exceeding its statutory requirements, why the US is witnessing such an alarming rise in the exploitation of children discharged from the agency’s custody.
Lawmakers in the US have recognized reports of child labor are real and repulsive. They acknowledged that unaccompanied minors are uniquely vulnerable to dangerous jobs. According to HHS figures, more than 260,000 unaccompanied migrant children have passed through ORR and been released to communities in 2021 and 2022.
Senator Ted Cruz said the Biden administration has utterly failed to secure the border and has encouraged parents to send their minor alien children on dangerous trips to the US unaccompanied. Reports reveal that around 85,000 children have gone missing because the federal agencies tasked with caring for them can’t account for where they are. The Biden admin claims the children are coming to live with their family members but reports show otherwise – many children weren’t placed with family members or anyone else they knew.
As such, the HHS announced a new accountability team in June to assess and address potential child exploitation risks with the unaccompanied children program. Trainings were broadened across the Department of Health and Human Services in July, including child welfare agencies and homeless and runaway youth programs.