Fed Expands Investigation of Immigrant Child Labor at Slaughterhouses

Fed Expands Investigation of Immigrant Child Labor at Slaughterhouses

The Department of Homeland Security has expanded its investigation Migrant children found cleaning slaughterhouses According to two US officials familiar with the investigation, and now working with the Justice Department to examine whether a human trafficking scheme brought migrant children to work at multiple slaughterhouses for multiple companies across multiple states.

The investigation centers on determining how Central American children, some as young as 13, work in dangerous jobs by presenting identities stolen from U.S. citizens that are valid only for American adults.

Last month, the Labor Department found that Packers Sanitation Services Inc., known as PSSI, employed 102 children at 13 slaughterhouses in eight states. The children were cleaning blood and animal parts from meatpacking plant floors at night and attending school during the day, Labor Department investigators said.

A Department of Labor investigator photographed a child who worked for Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) cleaning a slaughterhouse in Grand Island, Nebraska. Sources of the matter have been obscured. (US Department of Labor)

So far the investigation has focused on traffickers who provide children with false identities and possibly lure them into dangerous jobs. The companies themselves are not targets of the investigation, officials said.

NBC News reported in January That DHS’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) is investigating whether children worked for PSSI through a human trafficking scheme.

A newly expanded investigation by HSI and the Department of Justice is examining whether these children and others were part of a scheme to smuggle minors from Central America into the United States to work for multiple companies in the meatpacking sector nationwide.

U.S. officials familiar with the investigation described it as “ongoing and robust” and spanning multiple law enforcement field offices.

“Due to an ongoing investigation, HSI is unable to comment at this time,” said an ICE spokesperson for the Midwest and Northeast Region.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

PSSI spokeswoman Gina Swanson said the company had not been contacted by law enforcement and had “no knowledge of any such investigation.”

“We have always taken strict steps to comply with the law, including the use of the government’s e-verify system for new hires, extensive training for all hiring managers, multiple audits and the use of biometrics,” Swanson added.

NBC News first reported According to an internal company document, a former PSSI employee employed the same “known minor” twice under two different names within a six-month period.

A former PSSI manager said it’s common in the meatpacking industry to be turned away when a potential employee presents an ID that appears to be false.

“You have a lot of people in this industry who are undocumented workers. A lot of times it’s because they’re not going to pay enough to hire people who want to do it in America,” said the former manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The former manager confirmed that the company uses the federal government’s E-Verify program, but said that while some employees who presented false documents were rejected, it was common for workers who presented clearly false identification to be hired as long as the documents said so. was done Legal and of age.

“You can tell by looking at the ID that the person on the ID is not even close to the person standing in front of you,” the manager said.

PSSI spokeswoman Swenson denied the manager’s claims.

“It’s patently false — period,” he said. “We have made it crystal clear that we do not want anyone under the age of 18 working for the company. We have trained and retrained our recruiting staff on how to proactively spot identity theft – as part of our comprehensive effort to enforce this strict 18 Employment of persons below the age of 18 years is prohibited.”

This article was originally published

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