Business lobbyists could be revving up to oppose a ban on importing goods made with forced labor, child labor or prison labor, according to media reports that provoked alarm from Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert.Maddow slammed the businesses who would lobby against the ban as “child labor-endorsing pro-slavery freaks,” vowing on Nov. 10 to make the case against them and any members of Congress who side with them. View the clip here, starting at 3:37.
Colbert in his Nov. 17 episode satirically criticized the ban, and suggested using “child lobbyists” to push Congress to rethink enacting it. View the episode here, with the child labor bit starting at 1:56.
The proposed ban is in a customs reauthorization bill by Senate Finance Committee head Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the ranking Republican, Charles Grassley from Iowa. The bill also calls for tightened enforcement efforts from the Department of Homeland Security against imports of goods made with forced child labor.Lobbyists fear that DHS might use a Labor Department list to enforce the ban, according to Inside U.S. Trade. They criticize the way the government put together the list, which identifies goods from certain countries for which there is a “reasonable basis to believe” they were made with forced child labor.
The list points to 28 goods that “recent, credible” sources say could be made by children under forced or indentured conditions. The list comprised a full variety of goods, including:
- textiles: Argentine, Indian and Thai garments, carpets from India, Nepal and Pakistan, and embroidered textiles from India and Nepal
- illegal: Colombian coca and Russian child pornography
- significant: cotton, electronics and toys from China
- tasty: Cote d’Ivoire coffee and Bolivian and Burmese sugarcane
- and precious: Burkina Faso gold and Sierra Leone diamonds.
Meanwhile, International Labor Rights Forum, SweatFree Communities, American Federation of Government Employees, and Change to Win issued this comment in response to the Labor Department’s proposed updated list of products that could be made by forced or indentured child labor.