Discuss as:

Dateline presents 'America Now: Children of the Harvest'

On Sunday, July 18 at 7:00PM ET, Dateline will air its year-long investigation into children migrant workers, reported by Dennis Murphy.

While the Department of Labor has made eliminating underage child labor a top priority and has hired 250 more investigators to be out on the fields this summer enforcing stiffer fines for farmers allowing children under 12 to work, agriculture has always been an exception to the rule when it comes to minimum age and the workplace. At twelve, a child can pick blueberries all day long in the hot sun, but at twelve, he's still too young to get a job stocking those berries in an air-conditioned supermarket. It's an unfair irony that is the reality for those children of migrant workers who live in the world of "Don’t ask, don’t tell."

"America Now: Children of the Harvest," airing on Sunday, July 18 (7:00-8:00 PM/ET), is a year-long investigation that takes viewers into the lives that belong to the invisible hands in America’s bounty -- migrant farm workers who travel with their families to pick the fruits and vegetables that go on our table. Beginning in the spring of 2009, Dateline went back to the fields to follow up on its Emmy-award-winning 1998 story that followed migrant families from Texas. We wanted to know: Were kids under the age of 12 still doing backbreaking illegal work at the start of the 21st century, and would we be surprised by how those children we followed in 1998 are doing now?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The documentary intimately follows the journey of ten-year-old Ulysses Cruz, a young boy whose life has been dictated by the cycle of the crops, and NBC News cameras document children under 12 doing work in agriculture forbidden by child labor laws. In addition, Dateline correspondent Dennis Murphy interviews Carl Fillichio of the Department of Labor and Zama Coursen Neff of the non-governmental advocacy group Human Rights Watch about our findings and to see what is being done to protect these children.

"Children of the Harvest," is the third installment of America Now series that examines issues facing Americans today and how communities across the country are doing in these adverse times.