While President Donald Trump's political brand emphasizes putting America first, and he's launched broadsides at U.S. companies hiring foreign-born workers, a new report suggests he's not practicing what he preaches. In fact, Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort got 70 foreign worker visas this year, according to the The Palm Beach Post, a slight increase from the number of foreign worker visas it successfully secured last year.
The upshot is that a full 70 employees at the president's private South Florida club ― which charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for membership, and which he and some members of his administration have repeatedly referred to as "the winter White House" ― will hail from foreign countries, despite the president publicly attacking companies who've done the same.
Throughout the presidential campaign, he assailed companies like Ford and Carrier for planning to move production to Mexico, insisting that under his administration, companies hiring American workers would be a paramount focus. These promises have not been particularly borne out by his results, however. The much ballyhooed Carrier deal he announced prior to taking office, for example ― meant to save more than 1,000 jobs from moving to Mexico ― did not prevent heavy job losses, and some Carrier employees reportedly felt misled by Trump.
The fact that Trump and his businesses have relied on foreign labor is not new news. In fact, it was a point of contention during the Republican primaries, as establishment darlings like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio tried, mostly in vain, to focus attention on the issue. At the time, Trump defended his use of foreign worker visas, describing it as "hard" to find American workers to take the sorts of jobs his properties demand.
According to reports, the foreign worker visas will be used to employ 15 maids, 20 cooks, and 35 waiters. Last year, Mar-a-Lago reportedly employed 64 foreign workers, meaning the total has increased by six for the upcoming 2017-2018 tourism season.
Trump's sprawling Mar-a-Lago estate has generated a fair amount of controversy throughout his presidential administration, as for his first few months in office, he traveled there regularly, even holding diplomatic meetings there, rather than in the White House.
In one case, while dining with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the club, a North Korean missile test led Trump to essentially conduct a national security meeting in his private club's dining area, in full view of his paying members.
Trump has also spent a drastic amount of time visiting his private properties and businesses since becoming president, whether his Florida estate, Trump Tower in New York City, or his many golf clubs. According to the website Trump Golf Count, in fact, he's spent a staggering 72 days visiting his golf clubs since his inauguration, nearly one-fourth of the total days he's spent in office. He's also attended high-profile sporting events at clubs he owns, most prominently the Presidents Cup back in early October, when he controversially dedicated the winner's trophy to the victims of hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico.
In short, Trump's behaviors relating to his businesses and private properties have continued to draw scrutiny throughout the early months of his presidency, and the news that he's once again hiring dozens of foreign workers via the H-B2 visa program will likely not help that. Notably, the Trump administration itself expanded the H-B2 visa program back in July, lifting the cap on how many could be awarded per year by 15,000. At the time, the Department of Homeland Security claimed the increase was necessary to help American companies facing "irreparable harm" from their inability to find employees.