U.S. Congressman Ruben Hinojosa Discusses the CARE Act

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The Children in the Fields Coalition is Honored by a Visit from Their Representative

Congressman with Migrant Students, Noemi Ochoa, CIF Coordinator for Texas, and Gilbert Maldonado, CEO for Texas Valley Communities Foundation

I believe that migrant children should have access to a quality education instead of having to work alongside their parents in the fields to help make ends meet.

Last night the Children in the Fields Coalition was honored by a visit from their United States Representative, Congressman Ruben Hinojosa. The coalition members, led by Noemi Ochoa, the Children in the Fields Campaign’s Texas Regional Coordinator for the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), include educators, businessmen and women, farmworkers, farmworkers’ children, and agencies providing support services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. The Coalition meets once a month to receive updates on legislation as it relates to the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act: H.R. 3564) and to review the progress of the campaign, as well as support the needs of farmworkers in their community.

Congressman Hinojosa began his address to the audience by thanking the coalition members for doing a great job in addition their commitment to migrant children in the region, noting, “You do a tremendous job, and I greatly appreciate your dedication to our migrant children and students.”

The Congressman went on to brief the audience on a variety of initiatives including his priorities for education programs, and his deep support for the CARE Act as one of the first Co-Sponsors of the bill. “I believe that migrant children should have access to a quality education instead of having to work alongside their parents in the fields to help make ends meet.”

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), which was established to stop the use of child labor in the U.S. mandates workers be a minimum of 16 years of age in all non-agricultural industries, yet it allows children to legally perform farm work at age 12 for an unlimited number of hours outside of school. Children performing agricultural work deemed by law as “hazardous” can be as young as 16, while hazardous work in other every other industry is strictly reserved for adults.

Currently, 91 members of the House of Representatives have sponsored the CARE Act, but additional sponsors are needed to pass this important piece of legislation. A hearing on this issue has yet to be requested by the Subcommittee on Workforce Protection, which must happen in order for it to be heard by the Education and Labor Committee.

“The coalition members have been instrumental in educating the public on this inequity in the Fair Labor Standards Act that allows children to work in agriculture, one of the most dangerous industries, at a much younger age and for longer hours than any other trade,” said Ochoa. “All children deserve to be protected equally under our country’s labor laws.”

About the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) and the Children in the Fields Campaign:
AFOP is the national federation of non-profit and public agencies that provide job training and services for America’s farmworkers. The Children in the Fields Campaign is a project of AFOP that strives to improve the quality of life of migrant and seasonal farmworker children by advocating for enhanced educational opportunities and the elimination of discriminatory federal child labor laws in agriculture.

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