The Harvest ~ La Cosecha : a documentary

Claim 2: “Migrant children work in 48 states in the USA,” and it’s LEGAL.

December 3, 2014 · 4,355 Comments

The legality of child migrant farm labor

As of now, it is COMPLETELY LEGAL for children to work in agriculture. The Labor Standards law passed in 1938 does not apply to youth farmworkers because at the time, many children who worked in the fields did so on their own family farms. Nowadays, this is not the case. As seen in The Harvest, most children are doing work for contracting farms far away from their homes. Here are some statistics from reputable sources to back up this claim made in the documentary:

The Land of Hypocrisy

Although it is legal in the United States for children to work in agriculture, the U.S. government has sponsored many efforts to eradicate youth farm work internationally. These efforts are blatantly hypocritical, as our current law implemented within our borders is so out of date. In a report published in Geneva, Switzerland on October 4, 2011, millions of dollars were allocated to combatting child labor on an international scale. A quote from the article reads:

“U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis released three new reports on child labor and forced labor October 3 and announced $32.5 million in grants to combat child labor around the world.”

But what efforts are being made to change this antiquated law within U.S. borders?

The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act), HR 3564 "would ensure that all working children are protected equally," according to the Human Rights Watch. Click the picture above to see more information about the Bill and its sponsorship in Congress.

The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act), HR 3564 “would ensure that all working children are protected equally,” according to the Human Rights Watch. Click the picture above to see more information about the Bill and its sponsorship in Congress.

The Human Rights Watch, among several national farmworker advocacy groups, has launched a campaign to promote the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act HR 3564). According the the HRW, this act would: 

  • Apply the same age and hour requirements to children working in agriculture that already apply to all other working children, including raising the minimum age for hazardous work from 16 to 18;
  • Preserve the family farm exception that excuses children working on their parents’ farms from the child labor law;
  • Increase fines for child labor violations to $15,000 from $11,000;
  • Strengthen provisions regarding children’s exposure to pesticides;
  • Require better data collection from the Department of Labor.

(adapted from the Human Rights Watch website section on the CARE Act)

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