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Despite tough stance on immigration, Trump’s companies hire many foreigners

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for photographs during a campaign event with employees at Trump National Doral Miami on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for photographs during a campaign event with employees at Trump National Doral Miami on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. AP

As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump’s position and comments on immigration have been controversial.

But while the president condemns illegal immigration and eliminates protections for some immigrant groups, his companies depend on foreign labor, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.

At least one Trump hotel also depends on immigrant labor or descendants of immigrants: Trump National Doral Miami.

During a campaign event in October 2016, Trump said that 80 percent of the hotel’s employees are Latinos, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

At the event, Trump encouraged his hotel employees “to step forward with their praise” about “working for Trump.”

“Many spoke of their home countries — Cuba, Haiti, Chile,” the article said.

Over the past decade, Trump companies have applied for almost 1,000 visas for foreign workers, hundreds of whom ended up employed at the Mar-a-Lago Club, the luxury Trump family-owned hotel in Palm Beach, according to a Univision analysis with data of the Department of Labor.

According to an article in the Palm Beach Post published on Nov. 3, Trump companies obtained permission to hire 70 waiters, cooks and cleaning staff for Mar-a-Lago Club for the 2017-2018 tourist season. The company pays the cooks $13.34 an hour, the waiters $11.88 and the cleaning employees $10.33 an hour, according to the newspaper.

The employees hired by Mar-a-Lago are mostly from Romania, according to a New York Times February 2016 article, also based on public records from the federal government.

On Thursday, President Trump allegedly made new disparaging comments about immigrant communities. The Washington Post reported that Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries” during a discussion at the White House with lawmakers on immigration policy.

On Friday morning, Trump took to Twitter to address the issue. He admitted that he’d used “tough” language but denied using the reported “shithole” phrase. At least one congressman at the White House meeting, Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, said media reports of the derogatory term “are accurate.”

Trump has said in previous reports that he hires foreigners because “it is almost impossible” to get “qualified people” to clean, work in the kitchen or serve in the restaurants of his hotels during the high season.

However, the employment agency in Palm Beach County, where Mar-a-Lago is located, has said that Trump’s company rarely turns to them to look for employees, even though they have people who want the jobs.

Tom Veenstra, spokesman for that agency, told the Palm Beach Post in November: “While Mar-a-Lago asks the federal government for dozens of H-2B visas [for foreign workers] every tourist season, the private club rarely asks CareerSource for help finding a local employee.”

In 2015, the hotel put in one request for a single banquet server.

The practice of hiring temporary visa workers (H-2B) is common in the tourism industry, and other hotels in Palm Beach also heavily rely on temporary foreign employees. However, the president has publicly denounced U.S. companies that have moved their factories to Mexico and other countries and has insisted on prioritizing American workers.

Follow Brenda Medina on Twitter: @BrendaMedinar and Facebook: @BrendaMedinaJournalist

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