NYT: Trump relying heavily on foreign-worker visas to staff Florida resort

Donald Trump has soared to new political heights by taking up the plight of the blue-collar American worker, but does Trump put his money where his mouth is? The New York Times tries to undermine that narrative with a peek inside the Trump empire, specifically the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which employs hundreds of workers at the height of the “season.” Most of those workers come from abroad, the NYT reports, while Americans don’t appear to get much access to those jobs:

Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired.

In all but a handful of cases, Mar-a-Lago sought to fill the jobs with hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries. …

But he has also pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago since 2010, according to the United States Department of Labor, while hundreds of domestic applicants failed to get the same jobs.

The visas are issued through one of a handful of legal and often-debated programs through which employers can temporarily hire foreign workers when American labor is not available. As part of its applications for the visas submitted to the Labor Department, Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago attested that in the vast majority of cases it was unable to fill the positions with American workers, or, as he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in September, “getting help in Palm Beach during the season is almost impossible.”

Asked why his club must seek so many foreign workers when Americans have applied for the same positions, Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview from Mar-a-Lago this month: “The only reason they wouldn’t get a callback is that they weren’t qualified, for some reason. There are very few qualified people during the high season in the area.”

Reuters first reported on this in July, a point the NYT notes deep into the article. That earlier investigative report found that Trump’s companies had made applications for 1100 foreign-worker visas over the past fifteen years, including nine that had done so for “waitresses, cooks, vineyard workers and other laborers on temporary work-visa programs administered by the Labor Department.” The article pointedly referenced Trump’s “vow to protect American jobs” in conjunction with this record.

Normally, this would be a tough record to explain for a politician. Remember when Meg Whitman’s housekeeper accused Whitman of knowingly employing her as an illegal immigrant weeks before the 2010 election? Or when Mitt Romney had to fire his landscaping contractor in late 2007 over the same issue?

Of course, those have a couple of key differences, too. Both of those involved some level of illegality; nowhere in either article from Reuters and the NYT is it suggested that Trump broke the law. In all three cases, one can make the argument that politicians opted for cheaper labor rather than hire American workers, but Trump hired eligible workers whether one likes their source or not.

This is somewhat akin to the issue of Trump’s four business bankruptcies, at least in terms of his supporters — within the rules, and that’s good enough. Those stories may look bad in traditional politics, but this hasn’t been a traditional political cycle for over a year now.  Trump’s supporters are there for his brash attitude and the sense that he’ll pull out all the same stops for them as he does for himself. It seems doubtful that this will cause them to re-evaluate their loyalty at this stage.

Republicans have wondered what the media will do to Trump if and when he gets the nomination. He’s been getting a fairly easy ride thus far, and those attacks that have surfaced have done nothing to dent his momentum. If the New York Times is already into reruns, could it be that they don’t have much else on Trump that hasn’t already been made public?

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