U.S. President Donald Trump has won permission from the Department of Labor to hire 70 foreign workers to fill temporary staffing positions at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida for its latest tourism season. Trump had previously blasted businesses that hired foreign workers instead of U.S. citizens.
On Nov. 3, data provided by the DOL revealed that Trump had been approved to hire 70 new staffers from foreign countries through the U.S. H-2B visa program. The 70 staffers will work as cooks, maids and servers at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, during its winter season, the Palm Beach Post reports.
Palm Beach County currently has an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. Overall, employers in the county have been permitted to hire 2,159 foreign workers for the 2017 to 2018 tourism season. Trump was also approved to hire 10 foreign workers for his National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida.
Trump has repeatedly called on U.S. businesses to hire citizens over foreign workers, asserting that outsourcing work weakens American manufacturing and job opportunities. On Jan. 20, Trump stated during his inaugural address that his administration's policy would be: "Buy American, and hire American."
On July 17, Trump kicked off his administration's "Made in America Week" to tout products manufactured by U.S. citizens.
"Remember in the old days, they used to have 'Made in the U.S.A.'?" Trump said while presenting U.S. products at the White House, according to ABC News. "'Made in America' but 'Made in the U.S.A.' -- we're going to start doing that again."
That same week, the Trump Organization filed a request with the DOL seeking H-2B status for dozens of workers to staff Mar-a-Lago for its winter season. On July 19, the Department of Homeland Security disclosed that it would increase the number of H-2B visas permitted in 2017 from 66,000 to 81,000, according to BuzzFeed News.
Trump defended his use of the H-2B visa program during a GOP primary debate in 2016.
"It's very, very hard to get people," Trump said. "But other hotels do the exact same thing ... We have no choice."
The Trump Organization had to prove to the DOL that it had attempted to find local workers in Florida before being granted H-2B visas to staff Mar-a-Lago and the National Golf Club. Mar-a-Lago took out an advertisement in the Palm Beach Post pitching temporary jobs. The advertisement ran twice but offered no contact information to any prospective applicants, advising them only to apply through a fax machine.
On Aug. 12, several Palm Beach residents said in interviews that they were eager to work in Mar-a-Lago, even on a temporary basis.
"Oh, my God, working at Mar-a-Lago is my dream job," job seeker Sky Chester told The Washington Post. "I would do anything: make beds, scrub toilets, whatever they need. Just to get my foot in the door at Mar-a-Lago would be amazing."
"I would work there, absolutely," said Rekiya Overstreet, another job hunter in Palm Beach. "I think it would be a great opportunity. But I think they prefer to hire foreign workers ... I just wish they'd give me that chance."
Senior manager Joyce Pepin of CareerSource Palm Beach County, a company that holds job fairs and prescreens local residents for employment, said that his center had found U.S. citizens and legal residents eager to work at Mar-a-Lago during the winter season.
"We have plenty of people to fill those jobs," Pepin said. "They just choose to work with the H-2B program."