Steps Forward. Steps Back: A Year’s Efforts to Combat the Labor Exploitation of Unaccompanied Children

By USCRI March 12, 2024

This February marked one year since the New York Times published a report detailing the exploitation of hundreds of unaccompanied children for their labor across the United States. Despite the increased attention and advocacy on the issue through the year, cases of child labor have increased and unaccompanied children continue to be exploited.

Child Labor Exploitation

Child labor is not unique to any one country or population of children in the world. Shamefully, it is an exploitative practice that erodes childhoods in many parts of the globe, including the United States. Child labor is defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” ILO Convention No. 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour defines “hazardous child labour” as “work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.” The United States ratified Convention No. 182 in 1999 and possesses its own child labor laws, authorized by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. Despite these and other legal obligations, child labor exploitation remains pervasive.

“All countries struggle with the complexity and challenges of child labor. The United States is no exception.” –
Bureau of International Labor Affairs


Click here to read the report.


USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

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