Two California congressmen are questioning whether this month’s immigration raid at Postville compromised an on-going child labor investigation at the plant. The two California congressmen are leaders of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee.
They’ve asked the U.S. Labor Secretary whether her agency is continuing its investigation of allegations that kids were working in the plant and that some workers were being paid less than the minimum wage. The raid at Agriprocessors was conducted by another federal agency — Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The congressmen, and others, charge the raid undercuts the on-going probe to ferret out child labor and wage violations and they’re asking federal officials to ensure the U.S. Labor Department officials get to interview workers who’ve been arrested at Postville before those workers are deported. Eighteen of those who were arrested in the raid at Agriprocessors were between the ages of 13 and 17.
U.S. labor laws specify that children under the age of 16 are forbidden from using motorized equipment; 14- and 15-year-olds are allowed to work, but they are not to work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on school days, and the raid took place on a school day. No Agriprocessors managers have been arrested or charged in connection with the raid.