LULAC DEMANDS A U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEATH OF AN IMMIGRANT MINOR IN MISSISSIPPI PLANT
Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Opposes Efforts to Induce Children Into Dangerous Jobs As Companies Work Around Safety Regulations
July 21, 2023
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Washington, DC – LULAC stands united in grief and outrage over the tragic death of Duvan Tomas Perez, a 16-year-old immigrant worker from Guatemala, who lost his life while toiling under hazardous conditions at a poultry processing plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. On behalf of the Latino community, we vehemently demand that the U.S. Department of Labor thoroughly investigate this heartbreaking incident and prosecute all individuals and entities responsible for this heinous child labor exploitation.
"LULAC does not care who hired this 9th grader to work in a processing plant setting; this again shows how dangerous these jobs can be," said Domingo Garcia, LULAC President. "For several years, LULAC has advocated for reforms in the nation's protein processing plants, including meat and chicken facilities. We have seen some progress and commend the companies that are stepping up and assuming their duty to ensure that no minors are employed in any capacity at their facilities, whether direct or indirect workers. More needs to be done, and LULAC continues to reach out to the country's food producers, offering to conduct community outreach and education to improve safety practices and dissuade children from entering the plants."
It is unconscionable that a 9th-grade child like Duvan was subjected to such perilous and exploitative labor practices. Blaming an outside contracting company for such practices is merely an attempt to evade accountability and hide behind the veil of indirect workforce liability. Such corporate malfeasance must not be tolerated under any circumstances.
LULAC has always been at the forefront of advocating for the rights and welfare of immigrant workers. These vulnerable individuals have been subjected to hazardous and exploitative conditions in various industries, including the poultry processing sector, for far too long. We stand firm in our resolve to hold accountable those responsible for such tragedies.
In light of recent revelations regarding a large food safety sanitation services provider, Packers Sanitation Services Inc. LTD, employing minors in hazardous occupations across multiple states, it is clear that child labor exploitation remains a pervasive issue. The $1.5 million civil money penalties they faced are a stark reminder that corporate greed should never come at the expense of innocent lives.
"LULAC opposes efforts to relax child labor laws that companies desperate for more workers are pushing for in several states. Latinos will not be the fodder for injuries and deaths in industrial settings in the 21st century as we were in times past. LULAC demands comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the solution is to acknowledge and allow adult immigrants to work legally and safely in the United States, in the open and transparently, not being slipped in under the radar and with deadly consequences," added Garcia.