Human Trafficking for Food Production Ver. 1.0.1
The Transportation of Youths to the USA for Farm Labor
“The Top Gun National Crises Troubleshooter,” Retired
Frontline, the news program for PBS, aired the results of an “Investigation into Human Trafficking into the USA” in April of 2018.. [i] They reported a network of solicitors, smugglers, U.S. Department of Immigration Human Resources and sponsors for these imported youths. The sponsors turned out to be food producers. An example of egg producers in the Midwest, where a million eggs are produced daily in egg producing plants using chickens to produce the eggs was shown on film. These youths were required to work long hours (10 hours per day), lived in substandard housing and somehow were able to attend a school of education supported by the taxpayers of the USA.
Shortage of Farm Workers
When interviewers (people no longer associated with the network) related the shortage of farm workers in the USA and how it was necessary to import foreign labor, in this case from Central America, to meet production demands, it became apparent that the citizens of the USA own this problem. It’s no surprise that youths are required to supply the necessary labor to farm producers.
This is not a new idea; this writer picked string beans in the fields when he was in elementary school. In fact, school did not start until after the harvest was reaped! In fact youth labor was used after school and on weekends and during summer vacation from school. This writer worked at the motel just across the street cleaning rooms, making beds and maintaining the grounds including the planting of petunias around the large property every year. In addition, at age twelve, he qualified, age-wise, to have a paper route. During high school, he worked in the local food market, boning meat to make hamburger, cutting up chickens, manning the meat counter, stocking shelves and sweeping the floor. At least in this case, he was old enough to qualify for minimum wage.
The big difference between this writer’s working as a youth for these service and food providers was that he was still under the control of his parents, who made sure advantage was not taken of him and that he was learning to work for a living. These youths that are being imported from Central America are here with their parents’ permission, but are not under the supervision or control of their parents and advantage is being taken of them.
Where are the USA’s Youth?
In the USA’s history, youths learned how to work for a living. They either worked on the family farm, performing functions they were capable of performing, or were, at a minimum, required to perform duties around the family home to earn an allowance. In this twenty-first century, the USA is teaching their children to learn how to have fun. They participate in Little League, soccer leagues, hockey leagues, basketball camps, dance school, music school, and even summer Bible school and summer camps. So when they grow up into adulthood, they have learned to work to have fun in the sun.
America Owns the Problem
The parents of these youths have often surrendered the deed to their home for a loan to pay the smugglers to transport their children to the USA. When the children have worked in the USA and earned enough money to pay off the loan, then the deed to their property is returned. Therefore, the parents of these youths are sponsoring their children to go to the USA and work as farm laborers to produce food for the citizens of the USA. This is the same scenario that the USA parents were performing, but these imported youths are not under the supervision and control of their parents and advantage is being taken of them.
One may ask why these food producers are not checking to be sure they have legal immigrant youths working in their production plants. The short answer is that they need this labor to produce the food the USA needs and they don’t want to know if these youths are legal immigrants or not. No knowledge implies they are not responsible.
The immigration authorities of the USA have different views on who is responsible for this situation and have arrested, convicted and imprisoned smugglers in the smuggling network. But are those in these smuggling networks, who are helping the families living in poverty in Central America, really the guilty parties or are the citizens of the USA the guilty parties? Advantage is being taken of these farm labor youths because the USA’s youth are not available for this type of work.
Identify the Right Problem to Solve
The first step in any troubleshooting situation is to identify the right problem to solve before attempting to solve the first option to surface. If the right problem to solve is not where the effort is being made, then the real problem will get worse. In this case, it looks like there are two or three issues contributing to the problem. First, the USA’s youth are not available to perform the tasks that the immigrant youths are performing. Second, the food producers need to keep prices for their products down to supply America with food. Third, the families in Central America are living in poverty and, in all likelihood, this is influenced by the lack of action or priorities by the citizens of the USA. Have we overdone the child labors laws in the USA that we are now required to import youths from our neighbors in Central America? What actions to the citizens of the USA need to take to remedy this injustice? It is this troubleshooter’s experience that “once a problem is solved, the solution is simple,” so let’s not make this too complicated.
[i] KQED, San Francisco, “Investigation into Human Trafficking into the USA”, 04/2018