Human trafficking and illegal immigration has been a central issue in most debates in the United States. Unscrupulous agricultural industries have been accused of taking part in illegal immigration and human trafficking to provide cheap labour for the industries. The state of California is the most affected by this vice due its extensive farmlands. Even though these industries make high profits margins, the plight of workers is the same old story of poverty and destitution (Lee, 2013). The illegality of this practice led me into seeking answers to pertinent questions from George Gascon, the District Attorney of San Francisco. Mr. Gascon is the right candidate for this interview owing to his background in law and history as having been born to immigrant parents. As a District Attorney, his office deals with crime and which child labour is not an exemption. Gascon has a bachelor’s degree in history from California State University. He also obtained a law degree from Western University College of Law. Gascon became a police officer in 1987 and rose to head police department at San Francisco prior to being elected the District Attorney.
Interview report and answers to further questions
The interview with Mr. Gascon was done in light of various interview questions. On the first question, Gascon reported that California State has the highest number of farm workers followed by Texas and Washington. Out of the population farm workers in California, children account for 19%. This figure is statistically high considering child labour laws have regulations on the employment of children in farms. When asked about how children get involved in child labour, Gascon opined that some cartels in the agricultural sector traffic minors and hire them as workers in the farms. Studies by % Lee (2013) buttressed this claim when it revealed that children hired as workers are given low wages while the companies they work realize high profits. On the third question, Gascon responded that agricultural labour is perceived as slavery because of the inhuman conditions under which most agricultural workers live in. These workers toil in the farms but have nothing to show for it.
Gascon posited that that the law requires minors to work in the agriculture and entertainment industries. These children usually work outside school hours and perform lighter duties such as picking fruits and vegetables. However, various states have specific rules that guide employment of children in these industries. The federal law prohibits industries that hire children under inhuman conditions. Californian child labour laws do not have punishments for children caught working in the agricultural sector under inhuman conditions (Blanpain, 2013). The clause states that the burden of liability rests on the shoulders of the employer. There State imposes huge legal consequences for employers that hire undocumented workers and children. Gascon reported that any person that allows children to work in prohibited occupations are deemed to have violated the law. Such a violation attracts a fine not exceeding $10,000. An individual found guilty of this crime can be confined in a Californian jail for six months.
The State has legal protection for agricultural workers whose rights may be violated by ruthless employers. In this regard, Gascon revealed the existence of Division of Labour Standards Enforcement Office that takes in complaints of dissatisfied workers. This office accepts confidential complaints thereby, giving workers the anonymity they deserve. The law prohibits employers to discriminate against workers that files complaints with the office. On the question on how people can stop slave labour, Gascon pointed out the need to have increased advocacy. Human rights groups should broaden their scope to include widespread campaigns to stop slave labour. Most of these industries are known. It means that increased advocacy from human rights groups and enhanced disciplinary measures by offices legally mandated to combat slave labour can reduce this problem. When asked about the initiatives the state has taken to fight this problem, Gascon observed that the States of California has enforced laws to govern child labour. He added that only the State of California and Washington have introduced heat-stress rules. These rules require workers to have breaks, access shade and water.
The study reveals that human trafficking and child labour are current phenomena in the United States. Children are hired in farms to provide cheap labour. The result of this form of labour is that while the hiring industries realize high profit margins, the workers that produce these profits wallow in poverty and deplorable living conditions. Despite this challenge, the study has found out that the State of California has labour laws that protect workers from adverse incorporation.
Appendix 1: Telephone
Call the office of the District Attorney on (415) 533-1148 for further inquiries.
Appendix 2: Photos
Blanpain, R. (Ed.). (2013). Comparative labour law and industrial relations. Springer.
Lee, M. (Ed.). (2013). Human trafficking. Routledge.