Fabiola Santiago

'America First' for Trump? Not when it comes to hiring foreign workers for his Mar-a-Lago

Anti-Trump protesters rally in West Palm Beach

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters marched from Trump Towers in West Palm Beach to the bridge crossing to Mar-a- Lago Saturday night. President Donald Trump was in town for the Red Cross Ball.
Up Next
Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters marched from Trump Towers in West Palm Beach to the bridge crossing to Mar-a- Lago Saturday night. President Donald Trump was in town for the Red Cross Ball.

A year and a half into Donald Trump's presidency, we know he doesn’t lead by example or moral principle. If anything, he has fine-tuned a policymaking style that involves mocking or threatening those who disagree with him accompanied by the rabble-rousing of his base into fake patriotic frenzy.

All you have to be is awake to realize that the law and order Trump constantly croaks about to justify inhumane immigration policy applies to everyone else, but never to him or his circle. No matter the offense — sexually assaulting women, ripping off contractors and people who attended Trump University, or failing to pay overtime to his driver of 25 years — King Trump sees himself above the law.

Why, he can pardon himself if he wants to, the president has boasted.

So it’s not surprising that his posh Palm Beach estate and private resort club, Mar-a-Lago, is asking the Labor Department to grant Trump 61 foreign worker visas — six more than requested last year.

Amid the scandals that constantly surround Trump, the request might seem insignificant news. But, coming from immigrant-bashing "America First" Trump, it takes the cake in the hypocrisy department.

Under the H-2B visa program for seasonal, non-agricultural workers, employers must prove that they can’t find Americans to fill the jobs. Are there not enough cooks, servers and housekeepers in South Florida to staff Trump’s "Winter White House?"

Hard to believe, but then again, the Trump organization makes the minimal effort required to prove to the government that it can’t find U.S.-based employees.

As anyone who has tried can attest, all you have to do is ask for recommendations on Facebook — and a flood of candidates turn up.

Read Next

Tourism being our No. 1 industry, Florida is hospitality haven, with a slew of programs at universities and colleges churning out skilled graduates. In addition, the state is home to a healthy, hard-working and young immigrant population eager to make a decent living cooking, waitressing and housekeeping — even if it’s seasonal, lower skilled employment.

Add to this the displaced and unemployed people from Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria, and how can the Labor Department justify Trump’s foreign hires?

Surely his Secretary of Labor, R. Alexander Acosta — a native of Miami, the son of Cuban refugees and former dean of the FIU College of Law — can fill Trump in on the virtues and viability of hiring local.

Surely, our people — exposed from the cradle to the world’s finest cuisines — can satisfactorily cook and serve the resort’s patrons. And, on the matter of cleanliness, no doubt they’re likely to improve on Mar-a-Lago’s spotty health inspection record. The resort was cited for 15 health code violations last year, among them for salmon being served without proper parasite destruction and an ice machine accumulating a black/green mold-like substance. Yuck!

But perhaps this is why Trump wants to hire foreigners:

Mar-a-Lago — which costs members $200,000 to join (a fee doubled after Trump became president) — hardly pays a true living wage. According to the Labor request, they’ll pay 40 servers $12.68 an hour and 21 cooks $13.31 an hour (no tips).

Plus, there's the perk that foreign workers don’t sue you for overtime pay.

It’s an outrage, really. The least Trump could do is walk his talk.

But an analysis of hiring records for seasonal workers at three Trump properties in Florida and New York by the news organization Vox found that only one out of 144 jobs went to an American worker from 2016 to the end of 2017. The rest were foreign guest workers with H-2B visas, the only immigration program the president has sought to expand.

So, while families, both legal and undocumented, suffer separation, and wailing children are wrestled away from parents at the border, Trump makes a nice profit off imported cheap labor.

"America First" feeds his ignorant base the daily dose of hatred they need to feel better about themselves, and to get them to jump on board the anti-immigrant train.

But for him, it’s always Trump First.