Richard Marosi

A risky return to the U.S.

A risky return to the U.S.

The barrilero never stops moving.

All day he wheels cardboard barrels stuffed with used clothing through the narrow aisles of the warehouse. He dumps the apparel atop tables for sorters, who separate nylons from cottons, satins from silks, denims from plaids. If a sorter is standing around with no garments, it's the barrilero's fault. Supervisors hover nearby.

Tons of old clothing come in every week, and tons go back out, to India and Pakistan, where it's sold at outdoor markets.

The factory hired the barrilero in September, a few weeks after the now-21-year-old showed up at the manager's door looking for work. Right away, the manager had recognized him as Anthony,...