Note from the editor: This article replaces an article published by NBC News in April 2023 about a migrant working at a Kansas slaughterhouse. This article was withdrawn due to new information that revealed the migrant worker is not a child.
NBC News learned that a Guatemalan migrant, who claimed to be a minor and work at a Kansas slaughterhouse by night while going to high school in the daytime, is actually 21 years old.
On April 12 NBC News, Noticias Telemundo, and the young migrant named Pedro, to protect his privacy, were interviewed together about him. He was working at a meat-processing plant in Dodge City for Packers Sanitation Services Inc.
The young man told NBC News, and the U.S. Government that he was 16 years old. According to federal law, it’s illegal to hire a minor for such a hazardous job.
A few days after the reports aired on NBC News, PSSI sent a videotaped Pedro’s interview in which he confirmed that he was not a child. NBC News asked Pedro to confirm his age and he replied that it was “hard to explain.” NBC News, Noticias Telemundo and Pedro then traveled to Guatemala to obtain official documentation proving he is over 21.
Pedro was able to enter the United States more easily by presenting himself as a minor. According to this false information, the U.S. Government issued him documents.
Pedro explained in the PSSI interview why he had given false information at border.
It’s because there are many people in Guatemala who need help and we do not have much money.
He spent three month in a Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter in Chicago for minor migrants. He attended high school in Kansas. A U.S. official said he continued to participate in the Office of Refugee Resettlement Program for Unaccompanied Migrant Children of Health and Human Services.
According to the original report by NBC News and Noticias Telemundo, Pedro claimed he had presented fake documents claiming he is 18 years old in order to obtain a job at PSSI.
Pedro’s contradictory accounts of his age show how, at different stages in his journey from a Guatemalan town to a rural Kansas slaughterhouse, it was more advantageous to him to identify himself as a child, but at other times, he had to be an older person.
NBC News, Noticias Telemundo and a number of other media outlets have published a collection of articles on minors who work for PSSI in slaughterhouses throughout the Midwest. They also published an article on workers who use stolen identities to get jobs with PSSI.
In February, a Labor Department investigation concluded that more than 100 minors were working at PSSI’s slaughterhouses. PSSI had previously signed a consent order in which they agreed to comply with child labor laws, and pay a $1.5 million fine. PSSI maintains that minors who work for the company obtained their jobs using false identities, and that it uses the E-verify government system to verify employees’ age and eligibility to work. The company stated that it has a policy “clearly” prohibiting the employment of workers under 18 years old.
A lawyer representing the company said that Pedro was put on paid suspension pending a investigation after the April 12 NBC News & Noticias Telemundo articles.