Biden’s Migrant Kids As Young As 12 Working At Hyundai Auto Manufacturing Plant In Alabama

OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion

Democrat Kamala Harris, the United States’ Vice President and Border Czar, has a history of mishandling public concerns, as evidenced by how recklessly and childishly she approaches them.

Harris often speaks with coyness, flirting, and babyishness on the world stage. As a result, she communicates necessary data unsatisfactorily in her public appearances since she lacks an understanding of the subject matter.

Additionally, Harris is flippant to the media when they ask about matters of grave importance such as how the country will handle a looming and massive humanitarian crisis on the Southern Border – which poses an alarming threat to national security.

Kamala’s failure as Border Czar comes fully into the spotlight this week with news of illegal immigrant child slave labor in the U.S.

A Hyundai assembly plant in Alabama has used as many as 50 migrant children as child labor, some of whom are as young as 12 years old.

Among the claims are those made by Montgomery Police, the Guatemalan family of three underage workers, and eight former and current employees of the Korean vehicle manufacturer’s factory.

It has been reported that underage workers as young as 12 worked at a metal stamping plant owned and operated by SMART Alabama LLC.

Parts provided by SMART, Hyundai’s largest U.S. assembly plant, are used in many of the automaker’s best-selling cars and SUVs.

A Reuters request for comment was not answered by Hyundai.

Reuters reported in February that underage workers were working at a Hyundai-owned supplier after a Guatemalan migrant child went missing from her Alabama home.

People familiar with their employment say the girl, who turns 14 this month, and her two brothers, ages 12 and 15, weren’t going to school earlier this year. In an interview with Reuters, their father, Pedro Tzi, confirmed their account.

The girl’s siblings also worked at SMART, according to police in Enterprise, the Tzi family’s adopted hometown. As part of their search for the missing girl, the police identified her by name in a public alert. She is not being identified in media reports because of her age, though.

“The police force in Enterprise, about 45 miles from the plant in Luverne, doesn’t have jurisdiction to investigate possible labor-law violations at the factory. Instead, the force notified the state attorney general’s office after the incident, James Sanders, an Enterprise police detective,” according to Reuters.

Mike Lewis, a spokesperson at the Alabama attorney general’s office, declined to comment. It’s unclear whether the office or other investigators have contacted SMART or Hyundai about possible violations.

Pedro Tzi’s children, who have now enrolled for the upcoming school term, were among a larger cohort of underage workers who found jobs at the Hyundai-owned supplier over the past few years, according to interviews with a dozen former and current plant employees and labor recruiters.

Several of these minors, they said, have foregone schooling in order to work long shifts at the plant, a sprawling facility with a documented history of health and safety violations, including amputation hazards.

A sign advertising jobs stands near the SMART Alabama, LLC auto parts plant and Hyundai Motor Co. subsidiary, in Luverne, Alabama

Reuters spoke with the majority of current and former employees under anonymity conditions. It was impossible for Reuters to determine how many children worked at the SMART factory, what they were paid, or other details about their employment.

Hyundai’s US supply chain may trigger a backlash from consumers, regulators, and reputational damage for one of the world’s most powerful automakers. Hyundai says it prohibits child labor across its entire workforce, including suppliers, in a “human rights policy” statement posted online.

Over $5 billion has been planned for investments by the company in the United States, including the construction of an electric vehicle factory near Savannah, Georgia.

“Consumers should be outraged,” says David Michaels, a former U.S. assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, who was consulted for Reuter’s report.

“They should know that these cars are being built, at least in part, by workers who are children and need to be in school rather than risking life and limb because their families are desperate for income,” he added.

At a time of U.S. labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, labor experts told Reuters there are heightened risks that children, especially undocumented migrants, could end up in workplaces that are hazardous and illegal for minors.

In Alabama and nationally, minors under 18 cannot work in metal stamping or pressing operations such as SMART, where hazardous machinery may be present. Also, Alabama law requires children under 17 to attend school.

Michaels, who is now a professor at George Washington University, said safety at U.S.-based Hyundai suppliers was a recurrent concern at OSHA during his eight years leading the agency until he left in 2017. Michaels visited Korea in 2015, and said he warned Hyundai executives that its heavy demand for “just-in-time” parts was causing safety lapses.

The SMART plant builds parts for the popular Elantra, Sonata, and Santa Fe models, vehicles that through June accounted for almost 37% of Hyundai’s U.S. sales, according to the carmaker. The factory has received repeated OSHA penalties for health and safety violations, federal records show.

A Reuters review of the records shows SMART has been assessed with at least $48,515 in OSHA penalties since 2013, and was most recently fined this year. OSHA inspections at SMART have documented violations including crush and amputation hazards at the factory.

According to its website, the plant can supply parts for up to 400,000 cars a year. However, it has also had difficulty retaining workers.

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