Biden Administration Launches Crackdown on Migrant Child Labor Fueled by Surge of Unaccompanied Minors at Southern Border

The extraordinary growth of child migrant labor in the United States comes as the Biden administration’s policies allow for record numbers of unaccompanied undocumented children to enter the U.S.


The Biden administration launched a crackdown on child labor this week. The extraordinary growth of child migrant labor comes as the Biden administration’s policies allow for record numbers of unaccompanied undocumented children to enter the United States.

  • The Biden administration said the rates of child labor violations have increased by 70% since 2018. In the 2022 fiscal year, 835 companies were found to have violated child labor laws.
  • News organizations like Reuters have documented the increased prevalence of migrant child labor for much of the past year.
  • The Biden administration was pushed to finally address the crisis fueled by its own policies after a bombshell New York Times report documented child labor across the length and breadth of the U.S.
  • The Times named-and-shamed an extensive list of prominent brands found benefitting from child labor in their supply chains including Cheetos, Lucky Charms, Nature Valley granola bars, Walmart, Target, Ben & Jerry’s, Whole Foods, Fruit of the Loom, Ford, and General Motors. Illegal migrant children were even found sewing “Made in America” tags onto J. Crew shirts.
  • Virtually every American has used items or eaten food from companies with migrant child labor in their supply chains. A Tyson Foods contractor was fined $1.5 million after at least 102 minors were uncovered working in Tyson facilities in Arkansas and Tennessee.
  • The Labor Department raided a Grand Island, Nebraska meatpacking plant and found 27 minors illegally working there, and later investigations uncovered a history of illegal child employment going back years.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid called the reports of growing rates of child labor “sickening” and compared them to a “horror story” from before the 1900s. While Reid said these children are essentially “indentured servants,” she does not blame the Biden administration for the crisis, instead she blames Republicans for supporting deregulation.
  • The Washington Post reported on the legal fallout for the family of 13-year-old girl caught illegally working a Nebraska slaughterhouse. Despite evidence that the slaughterhouse failed to verify its employees’ ages, the company faces no criminal repercussions for their actions while the girl and her family face deportation.
  • The New York Times noted that the surge of migrants at the border may be partially offset by the departures of many illegal immigrants who’ve lived in the U.S. decades. Between 2010 and 2020, the population of illegal Mexican immigrants declined from 6.6 million to 4.4 million while populations of people from more than a dozen countries including Poland and the Philippines dropped by 30 percent or more.



  • The Wall Street Journal covered the Biden administration’s new “wager at the border:” offering asylum-seekers a legal path to enter on humanitarian grounds to try and deter migrants from trying to immigrate illegally.
  • As Fox News noted, the typically outspoken Colin Kaepernick has suddenly gone silent after Ben & Jerry’s, a corporate partner of his activism organization, was revealed to have used migrant child labor in its supply chain. Ben & Jerry’s, which brands itself a “progressive company,” told Fox News it is “opposed to child labor” – apparently, only in theory.
  • National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote about how lawlessness begets lawlessness and no one should be surprised that “allowing illegal child migrants leads inevitably to ignoring child-labor laws.” Doughtery rejected the argument that there was such a thing as “benign neglect of the U.S. border” and argued that Biden’s and the Democrats “misguided idea of humanitarianism and public relations” has created a stateless class of vulnerable children.


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© Dominic Moore, 2023