IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump's line on hiring foreign workers gets a little more awkward

We've identified the one place in the United States where Donald Trump wants dozens of foreign workers: his own business.
Image: President Donald Trump arrives at the White House
U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington, U.S., after spending the weekend in Mar-a-Lago estate...

To hear Donald Trump tell it, curtailing illegal immigration to the United States isn't enough. The president has also argued that the country has to cut legal immigration because foreign workers are taking American jobs and undermining domestic wage growth.

It's awfully difficult to take this rhetoric seriously when one of Trump's high-profile businesses keeps hiring more foreign workers. The Washington Post updated its previous reporting on this last night:

President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club has asked permission to hire 78 foreign workers to serve as cooks, waiters and housekeepers during this winter's social season in Palm Beach, Fla., according to Labor Department data.The club -- a for-profit business, which also serves as Trump's weekend home and "Winter White House" -- submitted applications to hire 21 cooks, 40 waiters and 17 housekeepers from overseas. After working from October to May, the workers would return home.

Initially, Trump's business applied to hire 40 foreign workers, but that total has gradually increased over the last week, and it's now slightly higher than last year's request.

BuzzFeed added, "The workers are being sought under the controversial H-2 visa program, which permits US employers to hire guest workers under temporary visas if no qualified US workers want the jobs."

And that's where the story gets a little tricky.

As we discussed last week, Mar-a-Lago, which the president promotes and profits from, caters to very wealthy clients, who can afford an enormous membership fee ($200,000) and hefty annual dues ($14,000).

It used to cost less, but the venue hiked its prices when its owner became president.

If Trump's club found it difficult to fill the openings for cooks, waiters, and housekeepers -- in a Palm Beach County, which has a population of over 1.3 million people -- Economics 101 says it should take advantage of its extensive revenue and offer more money.

After all, Trump made a specific commitment to the public: "My administration will follow two very simple rules: buy American and hire American." Did he mean it or not?

A recent Vox analysis of hiring records for seasonal workers at three Trump properties in New York and Florida "revealed that only one out of 144 jobs went to a US worker from 2016 to the end of 2017. Foreign guest workers with H-2B visas got the rest."

In other words, Trump wants fewer foreign workers in the United States, but more foreign workers at his own private-sector operation.