Opinion Pieces

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard Introduces the Care Act of 2022 to Protect the Rights, Safety and Future of Every Working Child in America

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Washington, D.C., March 31, 2022 | comments
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard released the following statement today after introducing the Care Act of 2022 to Protect the Rights, Safety and Future of Every Working Child in America.
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“Today, I am re-introducing the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE Act), to protect the rights, safety, and future of every working child in America. My friend and co-lead Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) I am determined to pass this legislation because Congress has a moral duty to protect every working child in our nation,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, Thursday.

“I’m proud to co-lead this important legislation with Rep. Roybal-Allard to protect the children of farmworkers. Farmworkers remain some of the most exploited, underpaid, and unprotected laborers in our nation. They and their children deserve legal protections, better working conditions, and higher workplace standards to protect their health and safety. It’s past time we updated our antiquated labor laws to give children working in agriculture the same protections and rights provided to all kids in the workforce,” said Rep. Grijalva.

“We’re delighted that Rep. Roybal-Allard and Rep. Grijalva are reintroducing this critical bill which will significantly increase protections for vulnerable child farmworkers. Ending exploitive child labor on American farms is long overdue and this legislation will result in healthier, better educated farmworker children,” said Reid Maki, Coordinator, Child Labor Coalition and Director of Child Labor Advocacy, National Consumers League.

“Agriculture remains the most dangerous industry for children in our nation. Under current federal law, kids as young as nine can work nearly unlimited hours without safety equipment or basic protections. We must create legal protections for these vulnerable children. Currently, there are no laws that govern how early these children can start working in the morning or how late they can work into the night,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.

“In 2021, Human Rights Watch recommended for the Department of Labor to “use its regulatory authority to update the list of hazardous occupations off limits to children under 16 to ensure at least the youngest child farmworkers are protected.” Child agricultural workers have limited educational opportunities, face graver risks of dangerous working conditions, sexual violence, and often sustain life-threatening work-related injuries.”  

“This legislation, once passed, will finally establish a minimum penalty for child labor violations; provide children with greater protections against pesticide exposure; and include reporting requirements on work-related injuries and deaths among child employees. It calls for Congress to prohibit children who are under the age of 18 from working in agricultural jobs that the Department of Labor has specified as particularly hazardous.” 

“From the time that I first introduced the CARE Act in 2001, until now, a child working in agriculture has died every three days, and roughly 33 children are injured each day. Child employees are four times more likely to experience work-related fatalities from heavy, dangerous equipment, extreme weather, and pesticides. The CARE Act is not about disrupting the way of life on family farms as it maintains current exemptions for family farms and agricultural education programs. Regulation is necessary to ensure that every working child in America enjoys equal protection under the law. Congress has a moral obligation to act,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.

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