As illegal migration from Central America soars, more minors are moving into America’s cheap labor pipeline. It’s a dismal journey enabled by lax immigration policies.
Reuters news service recently highlighted the wretched story of a Guatemalan teenager who, at the hands of labor brokers, was put to work in an Alabama chicken processing plant so she could repay the traffickers who brought her here.
Bottom-feeding businesses are capitalizing on a steady supply of underage foreign workers. The low-wage labor force comes courtesy of the Biden administration’s decision to stop expelling unaccompanied children at the southern border and, instead, to send them into the U.S. interior.
Now, according to Reuters, authorities are investigating cases of minors “sucked into a vast network of enablers, including labor contractors, who steer youngsters into jobs that are illegal, grueling and meant for adults.”
Peering into this adolescent meat-grinder, Reuters interviewed 16-year-old “Amelia” (not her real name) in rural Alabama, where at least three federal agencies are investigating possible violations of immigration and labor laws.
Amelia was among scores of unaccompanied minors released from Department of Health and Human Services shelters to Alabama’s Coffee County, home of a booming chicken industry.
For $1,500 up front, local labor brokers furnished Amelia with a stolen Social Security number and fake identification documents showing her to be an adult. The I.D. enabled her to pass the federal government’s E-Verify employment-vetting system. Amelia’s adult sister, with whom she lives, paid for the documents.
To earn her keep, Amelia toils five to six days a week on the frigid floor of a poultry processing plant. It’s mind-numbing and malodorous work, but she says her $10 hourly wage is twice what friends and family in Guatemala make in a day.
Paying usurous loans (10 percent interest per month) to traffickers and labor brokers, and sending money to help family members back home, means that teenage laborers are under intense pressure to make money quickly. Vans supplied by staffing firms shuttle them to work, deducting $40 a week from paychecks for the service.
What about education, mandatory for 16-year-olds under state law? “School isn’t for me,” Amelia says. “I have debts.” For her, those three words are a more fitting motto than U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ happy new “Nation of Welcome” slogan.
Yes, Welcome to America, where the exploitation of children is countenanced in pursuit of the Biden administration’s political goal of limitless immigration.