Posted on July 30, 2023

More Kids Are Working Dangerous Jobs Amid Weaker Labor Laws, Child Migration

Aimee Picchi, CBS, July 27, 2023

A troubling trend is brewing underneath America’s strong employment market: more children are working in dangerous jobs, violating the nation’s labor laws and putting their lives at risk.

In the last 10 months, federal regulators have found almost 4,500 children working in violation of federal child labor laws, an increase of 44% from a year earlier, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Some of the children were operating dangerous machinery, such as deep fryers and meat-processing equipment, the agency noted.

The surge in cases of illegal child labor come as some states are weakening their child labor laws, while some lawmakers have also pointed to an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S. as an underlying cause.  {snip}


Almost 400,000 children have entered the U.S. alone since 2021, according to government data. The numbers have spiked in 2021, 2022 and 2023 compared with 2020, the data shows.

A New York Times investigation published earlier this year found that the use of child migrant labor in factories across the U.S. has “exploded” since 2021, and concluded that “the systems meant to protect children have broken down.”

Some of the children entered the U.S. alone and then went to live with relatives or friends, who sometimes pressure the youths to make money by getting jobs at meat-packing plants, food processors and other employers.

These jobs can even be fatal, such as in the case of a 16-year-old boy from Guatemala who died earlier this month in a machinery-related incident at a Mar-Jac poultry plant, NPR reported. The boy, Duvan Tomas Perez, was too young to be legally working at the poultry plant, according to federal law.