Do supporters who decry work place enforcement condone the exploitation of children on U.S. farms?
When businesses get away with violating immigration laws in the workplace, there's no telling how many more laws will fall by the wayside. Three years ago I wrote a blog post highlighting this phenomenon, pointing to the fact that the ICE enforcement raids in Postville, Iowa, uncovered not only employment of illegal immigrants but also more than 9,000 violations of child labor laws involving 32 youths.
Yesterday ABC News reported that the U.S. Department of Labor found children between the ages of six and 11 working in strawberry fields in the State of Washington, likely right alongside illegal immigrants. The three companies listed – George Hoffman Farms, Berry Good Farms, and Columbia Fruit, LLC – are not using E-Verify, according to the helpful NumbersUSA database.
Andrea Schmitt, an attorney with Columbia Legal Services in Olympia explained:Minimum wage laws are not being followed with the adults who are working in this industry. Across the board, we see people making $5 or fewer an hour. People can't make minimum wage by the piece and so if they have another set of little hands adding to the pile of berries, they might be able to make enough to live on.
While I am only speculating, it certainly sounds like these businesses are hiring illegal aliens and paying them substandard wages, which, in turn, has resulted in the illegal immigrant parents bringing their children along to make up for the deficit. Only 10 days ago, a strawberry farmer in Washington admitted to the media that the industry regularly hires illegal aliens: "If they had E-Verify here, you'd shut us down. Absolutely." This same famer explained that he was the focus of an ICE investigation a few years back and that some of his workers were deported to Mexico, only to return to Washington three days later with different IDs and Social Security numbers. He contacted immigration attorneys who told him that he had "no choice but to hire them back… no choice but to believe them." Mike Shelby, executive director of the Western Washington Agricultural Association explained that mandatory E-Verify would put the industry "at tremendous risk."
While the businesses are obviously profiting from their lawlessness, there is a high cost to cheap labor, and it is passed on to the taxpayer. The federal investigators have levied a fine of $8,117 per child against these companies for the child labor violations, but there's no evidence that the Department of Labor contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement to see how many fines that agency could levy.
ABC News previously ran a story about child labor being used in blueberry fields in North Carolina, Arkansas, and New Jersey. After the discovery, Wal-mart severed ties with the company, saying it "will not tolerate the use of child labor." But when will companies stop tolerating the use of illegal immigrant labor? Tolerating one seems to require tolerating the other.
- Maricopa CountyLv 69 years agoFavorite Answer
Why would one blame the company if the parents of the child are sending them to work? To that I ask, these children are on farms working which means they are on company property thus making the company liable and the farm is required by law to follow all labor laws. In fairness the parents deserve to have their kids taken away from them and put in care of the state. It's very odd to what extremes activists are willing to go to in order to protect and keep illegals in this country even if it means children 8 to 13 years old are sent to work manual hard labor and it is against the law, but activists of late seem to ignore our labor laws and defend illegals as hardworking and their need for a better life, supersedes our laws and they defend and blame everybody but those who have the responsibility to see our laws are followed. They do this in Mexico, they take their young kids and put them to work in the fields and the kids study some school work at night. I am very surprised to see activists condone child labor.Just like activists think the only laws illegals break upon enter this country is just one law, the illegal entry.They dismiss document fraud is a crime. they dismiss driving without a license and insurance is not a crime. They mainly use our laws are unjust because illegals cannot get drivers licenses and SS cards and that illegals have broken no laws and police should allow them to drive without licenses and insurance and with fake or stolen documents or else illegals will distrust the police and no report crimes. Activists deem many of our laws do not apply to illegals
- alc0035Lv 69 years ago
I am not sure why they waited so long with the Postville thing. I could of told them 10 years ago that there was illegal immigrants/children living and working there. If they would of dealt with it many years ago, it would of never been such a huge deal.
- Anonymous9 years ago
So are you saying illegals should make minimum wage, or employers hiring illegals should be prosecuted, or Americans should pay wail fair too the illegals kids so they don't have to work? The answer is deportation, we cant save the world, Mexicans are poor here or in Mexico!
- dianerLv 59 years ago
Children 14-15 can have a vacation certificate (after school, summer or holidays, when school isn't in session) in my State and even then we have to apply through the school. Students who are 16 and 17 are issued transferable work permits.There are limits to hours, type of job, all permits have to be approved and signed by employer.
Companies are responsible for their employees when on the job, verifying they're legal and have a safe work environment.
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- Anonymous9 years ago
Why would one blame the company if the parents of the child are sending them to work? The company does not go out and seek children to work, parents bring their own children to work. Also, it is not the job of the company to be ICE, immigration is up to the gov't, if one has a problem with illegals take it up with the gov't not the company
- 9 years ago
Imagine if it were legal for employers to fire workers when they learn they're illegals. Why will NO Democrat let that happen?