Two of President Donald Trump’s private clubs in Florida have petitioned the government for authorization to bring in more foreign workers to serve as cooks, waiters and housekeepers, according to Department of Labor (DOL) records posted online Thursday.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, the Palm Beach hideaway known as the “Winter White House,” is asking for 70 additional workers, and the Trump National Golf Club in nearby Jupiter is requesting six. The foreign workers would come in under the H-2B visa program, a seasonal visa used to hire non-agricultural laborers when U.S. companies can’t find enough suitable Americans candidates.
The petitions to DOL, first reported by BuzzFeed News, come during the Trump administration’s “Made In America” week, an initiative to showcase and promote U.S.-based companies and workers. Trump has frequently blasted U.S. companies for either shipping jobs overseas or bringing in cheaper foreign workers, but he has defended the practice for his own Mar-a-Lago club, where he says it’s “very, very hard to get help” during Florida’s winter tourist season.
If the petitions are approved, Trump’s clubs would be able to bring in H-2B workers from October 2017 through May 2018.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it would bump up the H-2B cap — 66,000 per fiscal year — by an additional 15,000 visas for FY2017. DHS Secretary John Kelly said the extra visas were needed to prevent American businesses from suffering “irreparable harm.”
Under H-2B rules, companies must certify that they have exhausted efforts to find native workers and that bringing in foreign labor will not adversely affect the wages of “similarly employed” American workers. Critics of the program say companies often turn to H-2B visas before making attempts to recruit American workers, or, in some cases, turn away native applicants in favor of cheaper, more pliable foreign labor.
Since Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, companies he owns or are affiliated with his brand have petitioned for at least 370 foreign guest workers under H-2B program and a similar program for agricultural laborers, reports BuzzFeed News. Of those, 230 were for Mar-A-Lago and the Jupiter club.
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