ATEST Joins Call to Increase Child Labor Enforcement Funding in FY24 Budget Negotiations

October 5, 2023

The Honorable Patty Murray, Chair
The Honorable Susan Collins, Vice Chair
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, DC

Dear Chair Murray and Vice Chair Collins:

The thirteen undersigned organizations write to express our appreciation for funding of the
Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division (“WHD”) in S.2624, the FY24 Labor, Health and
Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, and the inclusion of
language in the accompanying report addressing the work of the WHD to protect vulnerable
American and temporary foreign workers.1 Support for the WHD is important to reverse the
trend of annually declining enforcement hours beginning in 2017, as opportunities for abuse
have increased.

For example, according to a 2023 report, less than 1% of all farms are investigated for federal
wage and hour violations and when WHD investigators conduct an investigation of an
agricultural employer, they detect violations 70% of the time. We urge the Senate to continue
supporting the work of the WHD in any final appropriations package.

Additionally, we write to support the President’s supplemental budget request of August 10,
2023 as it relates to support for the salaries and expenses of the WHD (and the accompanying
request for the Solicitor’s Office). Earlier this year, the Departments of Labor and Health and
Human Services announced a new inter-agency child labor task force to combat the exploitation
of child labor. In the previous fiscal year, the Department of Labor found 835 companies liable
for employing over 3,800 children in violation of labor laws. Migrant children are especially
vulnerable to child labor exploitation, and the Departments plan to increase their efforts of
thoroughly vetting sponsors and following up with unaccompanied children. This supplemental
funding would contribute to enforcement efforts aimed at combating the exploitation of child

Lastly, the expansion of temporary foreign worker programs as contemplated in Section 543 of
S.2625, the FY24 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, would further strain
the resources of the WHD. For example, in 2019, only 800 WHD investigators were responsible
for overseeing and protecting 165 million workers (which includes roughly 2 million temporary
foreign workers).

Thank you for your continued support for protecting American and temporary foreign workers
from exploitation.


Justice in Motion
Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST)
Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.
Economic Policy Institute
HEAL Trafficking
Jobs With Justice
Justice at Work Pennsylvania
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Migration that Works
National Employment Law Project
National Immigration Law Center