As Illegal Migrant Child Labor Surges in U.S., DOL Turns a Blind Eye
Foxx and Kiley Call on Su to Outline the Department’s Plan of Action
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 1, 2023
WASHINGTON – Today, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Kiley (R-CA) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su to request information from the Department of Labor on how it plans to address the alarming increase of illegal child labor in the United States. The lawmakers outline specific concerns about the widespread use of fraudulent work documents, which has created challenges when verifying the age of prospective employees.
In the letter, the Members write: “As it is the federal agency enforcing our nation’s child labor laws, we write to understand better the steps the Department of Labor (DOL or Department) has taken to address this issue and to inquire about its ongoing coordination with other federal agencies. President Biden’s reckless open-border policies have created a massive humanitarian crisis. … Since President Biden took office, more than 300,000 migrant children have come alone to the United States.”
The letter continues: “While the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) child labor provisions bar minors from working in occupations deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Labor, many minors are able to secure employment by obtaining false identification to establish their age as 18 or older. These documents, provided by criminal trafficking networks, pass the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) E-Verify process. The Committee understands that, to date, DOL has done nothing to acknowledge or address this reality. Instead, it has parroted talking points and shifted the blame to Congress and employers, turning a blind eye to solutions that would prevent minors from being exploited in the first place, such as securing the border.”
The Members conclude: “The Department claims that it takes the issue of illegal child labor seriously and has initiated a [Taskforce] with the Department of Health and Human Services. However, the Taskforce has been completely silent on the widespread use of fraudulent work documents and how employers are expected to comply with the FLSA amidst these challenges. To prevent illegal child labor, it is imperative that DOL, in consultation with DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ), clearly indicate which documents employers may safely rely on to verify the age of prospective workers and ensure that they are in compliance with the FLSA.”
To read the full letter, click here.