Department of Homeland Security

Feds Expand Probe Into Migrant Child Labor in Slaughterhouses

Authorities are now investigating how children from Central America wound up working for multiple slaughterhouse companies across the U.S

The Department of Homeland Security has widened its investigation into migrant children found cleaning slaughterhouses and is now working with the Justice Department to examine whether a human smuggling scheme brought migrant children to work in multiple slaughterhouses for multiple companies across multiple states, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the investigation. 

At the heart of the investigation is determining how Central American children, some as young as 13, wound up working dangerous jobs that are legal only for American adults by presenting identification stolen from U.S. citizens, the officials said. 

Last month, the Labor Department found that Packers Sanitation Services Inc., known as PSSI, employed 102 children at 13 slaughterhouses across eight states. The children were cleaning blood and animal parts off the floor of meatpacking plants by night and going to school by day, the Labor Department investigators said.

So far the investigation is focused on smugglers who may have provided the children with false identities and possibly led them to dangerous jobs. The companies themselves are not targets of the investigation, the officials said.

NBC News reported in January that DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was investigating whether children ended up working for PSSI through a human trafficking scheme.

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