US Department of Labor announces $7M funding opportunity to combat forced labor, child labor abuses in Mexico
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today the availability of $7 million in grant funding to combat child and forced labor abuses in Mexico’s chile pepper and tomato industries.
The world’s largest producer of tomatoes and chile peppers, Mexico exports 85 percent of its tomato production and 72 percent of its chile pepper production to the U.S. The department has identified that these industries use forced and child labor in their production, including in dangerous agricultural tasks.
Administered by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the funding opportunity will support a project to strengthen Mexican labor law and advance the goals of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by empowering workers to advocate for the elimination of forced labor and child labor in agriculture. The project will aim to increase the use of worker protection mechanisms – such as complaint mechanisms – in the chile pepper and tomato industries in Mexican states, including Baja California, Baja California Sur and Chihuahua.
This funding opportunity comes after a visit by senior members of the department, including Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee, to Mexico from Sept. 1-3, where they met with officials from the Mexican Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to discuss the challenges, opportunities and commitments needed to advance the implementation of the USMCA.
ILAB works to address labor violations around the world. On June 23, the bureau released its updated list of goods produced by child labor and forced labor as required under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. ILAB also maintains a record on the findings on the worst forms of child labor worldwide.