Republican nominee Donald Trump has come under fire after his private Palm Beach club filed for 78 guest worker visas to bring foreign nationals into the U.S. to work temporary service jobs.
Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club in Florida is only open for around eight months of the year, reports CNN. According to Trump, this makes it difficult to find a consistent workforce of Americans, so the club fills the majority of its service jobs with foreign nationals through the H-2 visa program. The club recently filed for visas for servers, housekeepers and cooks for wages between $10 and $13 an hour.
The H-2 program allows employers to bring in workers from more than 80 countries in six continents to fill temporary and seasonal jobs in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an employer can only qualify for the program if “there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.”
Critics of the club’s hiring practices say there are more than enough Americans looking for work to fill those jobs, according to CNN.
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Tom Veenstra, senior director of support services at Palm Beach County CareerSource, says his agency’s career services could provide U.S. workers for the jobs in available. “We have hundreds of qualified candidates for jobs like these.”
Trump maintains there are not enough Americans willing to take the jobs. “It’s almost impossible to get help,” Trump told CNN. “And part of the reason you can’t get American people is they want full-time jobs.”
A number of applicants report turning down the jobs for year-round work or jobs that pay more. Others say they wanted the job but never heard back from the club.
The New York Times reports that nearly 300 U.S. residents have applied or been referred for work at the club, since 2010, but only 17 have been hired. In this same period, the club applied for more than 500 work visas.
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“The only reason they wouldn’t get a callback is that they weren’t qualified, for some reason,” Trump said in a telephone call with The New York Times. “There are very few qualified people during the high season in the area.”
Trump said that this method of temporary and legal immigration supports American business. “They have to come in legally, and then they go back ... many people do that. That’s a good thing. Otherwise, you hurt your business.”