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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ILAB News Release: [05/05/2010]
Contact Name: Joseph De Wolk or Dolline Hatchett
Phone Number: (202) 579-7359 or (202) 693-4651
Release Number: 10-0616-NAT

Statement of US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on today’s report on child labor in agriculture

WASHINGTONU.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement regarding the Human Rights Watch report "Fields of Peril: Child Labor in U.S. Agriculture" on child labor in agriculture:

"The Human Rights Watch report released today documents the many dangerous jobs that U.S. farm worker children perform. It details the long hours many of them work and the negative impacts on their health, education and well-being. I commend Human Rights Watch for focusing on this issue of critical importance. We simply cannot — and this administration will not — stand by while youngsters working on farms are robbed of their childhood.

"Under my direction, the U.S. Department of Labor will continue stepping up enforcement efforts on behalf of all farm workers — including the youngest among them — regardless of status. We have added more than 250 new Wage and Hour Division field investigators in the last year alone, and we plan to bring on even more.

"With the goal of ending illegal child labor as a top priority, our investigators are using every tool available — from imposing civil money penalties to using the ‘hot goods’ provision — to end these violations. In the coming agricultural seasons, the department plans to increase both outreach to workers and investigations of U.S. farms. After all, those farmers who follow the law deserve a level playing field.

"We are also actively examining National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommendations on agricultural child labor and exploring regulatory changes to further protect children in the fields. And, in a related effort, we will soon issue regulations increasing protection for young workers in dangerous non-agricultural jobs.

"Building a stronger legal regime to protect U.S. child farm workers clearly requires a multifaceted strategy. Tighter regulation and better law enforcement are a critical part of this effort, but more robust legislation is important as well.

"As far as this administration is concerned, a single child labor violation is one too many. We will not tolerate it."