The cruelty of illegal immigration in America today manifests itself in the alarming rise in hazardous child labor within this nation’s interior. What price does the federal government put on a young life callously snuffed out by a highly profitable corporation that allowed him to be put at grave on-the-job risk? Less than 0.1% of annual company revenues.
“A Mississippi slaughterhouse that supplies chicken to Chick-fil-A is directly to blame for the death of a 16-year-old worker who was sucked into equipment in July and killed within minutes, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said” on Jan. 16, NBC News reported. “Duvan Pérez was cleaning the deboning area of the Hattiesburg plant when his hand got caught and his body was pulled into the machinery,” the network related.
‘He Might Have Looked 18’
Everything surrounding Perez’ hiring at the plant is scandalous. The boy was able to secure employment at the operation owned by Georgia-based processing goliath Mar-Jac Poultry by presenting himself as a 32-year-old adult male. A picture of Perez shows just how blatantly ridiculous a falsification this was.
“Mar-Jac confirmed to NBC News that Perez had used the identity of a man in his 30s,” the network noted in December. “Shown a picture of the 16-year-old, Mar-Jac attorney Larry Stine said Perez did not look like a 32-year-old man. ‘But he might have looked 18,’ said Stine, who has represented the Georgia-based company since the 1990s.”
This is a defense? Behind the shockingly weak reply lurks a hideous truth: Mar-Jac does not feel a need to accurately verify the identities of those they hire for these grueling and life-threatening chicken-processing jobs.
“At least nine times in the past three years, American citizens have complained to the Hattiesburg Police Department and sometimes to Mar-Jac that their identities were stolen and being used by Mar-Jac workers, according to police reports obtained via public information requests,” NBC added.
“Asked if the company was surprised to learn that Perez was 16, Stine said, ‘Yes, they [management] were surprised, that I can tell you. They were surprised and somewhat horrified,’” the NBC report continued.
Is that a believable statement? Is it any wonder the scourge of child labor is flourishing in 2024 America?
“The number of children working illegally has skyrocketed across all industries, according to the Labor Department, nearly doubling since 2019. More than 800 child labor investigations in 47 states are ongoing across industries, according to the agency,” NBC related.
Illegal Immigration Feeds Child Labor Channel
The main factor contributing to this disgraceful resurgence is illegal immigration.
“For decades, poultry plant companies have recruited South American immigrants to Mississippi,” Ashton Pittman at the Mississippi Free Press reported last July. “In August 2019, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided seven Mississippi poultry plants in the largest single-state worksite raid in US history, arresting nearly 700 undocumented immigrant workers in Bay Springs, Carthage, Sebastopol, Pelahatchie and Canton.”
Why illegals? They are desperate enough to do dangerous and distasteful work for low pay.
“After the 2019 ICE raids, the US Department of Labor cited several of the targeted plants for employment infractions,” Pittman wrote. “The department accused Pearl River Foods in Carthage of paying workers less than minimum wage after deducting the cost of necessary equipment like gloves and aprons; it also fined Koch Foods with a civil penalty of $1,693 for hiring a 15-year-old child to work in its Morton, Miss., poultry plant. The Justice Department also charged several poultry plant leaders in 2020.”
Yes, you read that right. The federal government fined a major corporation less than $1,700 for employing a 15-year-old in a perilous work position. The federal government is positively inviting large firms to carry on with their “we’re sorry, we didn’t know” child labor shenanigans.
“OSHA, an agency within the US Labor Department, said that it had cited Georgia-based Mar-Jac Poultry for 14 serious violations and proposed more than $200,000 in fines,” NBC detailed on the death of Perez.
Does that sound steep? According to marketing technology company ZoomInfo, Mar-Jac’s latest stated annual revenue figure is $354.8 million. Doing the math, $200,000 amounts to approximately 0.056% of what the processing behemoth brings in for a year.
Fortunately, some elected officials are starting to realize that nothing is going to change until the consequences for the willful or recklessly ignorant hiring of child laborers begin to sting the large corporations benefiting from the vile practice.
In November, Pennsylvania Republican state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie introduced a bill that “would increase the penalties for the most serious child labor law violations and require cross-reporting of such cases to further protect vulnerable children.”
“Mackenzie testified that federal officials have noted a 70% increase in child labor violations over the past five years, and state officials indicated in September that the Department of Labor and Industry has opened 276% more child labor cases since January than it did during the same period a year ago,” a release from his office reads.
Mackenzie’s bill calls for criminal penalties for employers in egregious cases. The charge would only be a second-degree misdemeanor, but it’s a start in the right direction.
Mackenzie correctly highlighted illegal immigration’s essential role in serving as a pipeline providing young, vulnerable bodies to be abused.
“I believe a major driver in the rise of more serious violations is the exploitation of unaccompanied children who were placed across the United States by the federal government,” he said. “These children are foreign nationals who crossed the border unaccompanied by any parent, guardian, or responsible adult.”
Along with greedy corporations, the onus for this acute evil should be put squarely on the progressive supporters of illegal immigration. How long can these self-proclaimed human rights champions continue to approve a human trafficking machinery that is maiming and killing children?