Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has revealed that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a new Withhold Release Order (WRO) against YTY Industry Holdings, detaining at all U.S. ports of entry disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by the company.
CBP issued the WRO against YTY Group based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor in YTY’s manufacturing operations. CBP said it identified seven of the International Labor Organization’s 11 indicators of forced labor during its investigation, including abuse of vulnerability, deception, retention of identity documents, intimidation and threats, debt bondage, abusive working and living conditions, and excessive overtime.
CBP also announced two new forced labor findings late Friday, resulting in orders for personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to seize palm oil and merchandise containing palm oil traceable to the Malaysian company Sime Darby Plantation Berhad. CBP will also seize seafood harvested by the Vanuatu-flagged fishing vessel Da Wang, which is owned and operated by the Taiwanese company Yong Feng Fishery Ltd.
CBP determined that Sime Darby and Da Wang use forced labor in its operations and that both companies’ goods are being or are likely to be imported into the United States.
CBP said by barring goods produced with forced labor from entering the U.S., it’s playing a critical role in protecting human rights and enforcing international labor standards. Mayorkas also announced last week that he has designated the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) chief procurement officer as the department’s senior accountable official to prevent forced labor and other forms of human trafficking in all DHS contracts and acquisitions.
“The dedicated CBP workforce has again taken significant action to combat forced labor and protect the human rights of workers around the world,” Mayorkas said. “[The] Withhold Release Order and Forced Labor Findings are another important step toward ending these abhorrent practices. We will continue to leverage all of our authorities and resources to bar goods produced with forced labor from entering the United States, and with my designation earlier this week of a senior accountable official to prevent human trafficking in DHS contracts, we are leading efforts to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are ever used to purchase goods or services that rely on forced labor.”
The DHS chief procurement officer will be responsible for ensuring effective implementation of anti-trafficking rules and best practices, including information sharing and tracking, contracting officer trainings, suspension and debarment actions, and criminal referrals.
CBP is a critical component of the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, a cross-department coordination center for countering sex trafficking and forced labor, including the importation of goods produced with forced labor. Its mission is to advance counter-human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims and enhance prevention efforts by aligning DHS’s capabilities and expertise.
Last year, CBP issued seven WROs and two Findings to protect American consumers and businesses from receiving nearly $500 million of goods made by forced labor.
Those WROs targeted cotton products and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, silica-based products made by a company that operates in Xinjiang, palm oil from a Malaysian company, and tuna and other seafood harvested by a Chinese fishing fleet, a Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel and a Fijian-flagged fishing vessel.
Last month, issued a WRO on all disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by Brightway Group based on information that “reasonably indicates the use of forced labor” during manufacturing. Supermax Corp., whose wholly owned subsidiaries include Maxter Glove Manufacturing, Maxwell Glove Manufacturing and Supermax Glove Manufacturing, was similarly sanctioned in October after CBP identified 10 of the ILO’s indicators of forced labor.
In September, CBP lifted a year-long WRO on Top Glove, the world’s biggest manufacturer of medical gloves, after a review of evidence showed that the company addressed all indicators of forced labor. Top Glove dispensed more than $30 million in remediation payments to its employees, the agency said, while improving labor and living conditions at its facilities.