Biden Labor Department Under Investigation After Mass Exploitation of Child Migrants Revealed

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
August 23, 2023

The independent watchdog of the Department of Labor is investigating the agency's role in a wave of child labor violations of migrants across the country.

The department's Office of Inspector General said in an Aug. 21 memo that it plans to audit the department's "efforts to curtail child labor law violations, as well as the cause for rising child labor law violations."

It's the latest development in a scandal involving the Labor Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the White House.

The New York Times first broke the story in April, when it showed documents proving the administration was quickly releasing unaccompanied migrant children into the country by the thousands. Many of those children ended up working grueling jobs, often for long hours and in dangerous conditions where they worked with chemicals and industrial equipment.

The probe comes amid rising cases of illegal child labor, Bloomberg reported:

Agency officials said in July that over the past 10 months alone, the DOL’s wage division has concluded 765 cases involving 4,474 children employed in violation of federal child labor laws. Overall, the department reported that it’s seen a 69% increase child labor violations from 2018 and 2022.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) slammed the Biden administration in June for its failure to address the widespread crisis.

"This administration has let tens of thousands of children be sold into slavery," Hawley said. "They are doing nothing about it."

Five former HHS employees said they were pushed out of the agency after they raised concerns about children's safety.

The Times report also implicated former domestic policy adviser Susan Rice. Rice and her team reportedly failed to act, even as administration staffers called for stricter vetting of the sponsors migrant children were placed with to prevent human trafficking. A week after the Times report, the White House announced that Rice would step down.

Further reports found that children were sent to the homes of unscreened adults, some of whom could have been registered sex offenders or had a history of child neglect.

The Times reported that though the two departments did flag the problem for the White House, the notices were not marked as urgent and did not properly explain the scope of the crisis.

Published under: Labor Department