When Vox analyzed hiring records for seasonal employees at Trump properties in New York and Florida, the result was not in line with President Donald Trump's 'America First' rhetoric: only one out of 144 jobs went to a U.S. citizen. The rest went to foreign guest workers.
Vox reviewed recruiting files submitted to the US Department of Labor for two Trump properties in Florida (including Mar-a-Lago) and one in New York from the start of 2016 through the end of 2017. In that period, hiring managers said they were able to find and hire only one qualified American worker — a cook — for 144 open positions for servers, cooks, housekeepers, and bartenders.
Oddly enough, Trump opted last year to temporarily expand the H-2B visa program that allows his company to make such hiring decisions.
The H-2B visa program allows seasonal, non-agricultural employers — like hotels and ski resorts — to hire foreign workers when they can’t find American ones. The Trump administration temporarily expanded this guest-worker program in 2017 while restricting other avenues of legal immigration, including the H-1B program for high-skilled workers.
The Trump Organization is exactly the kind of company that relies on the H-2B visa program for low-skilled workers.
Just three days after the program's expansion, Trump's properties requested permission to hire 76 workers. Along with benefiting his businesses, Trump's decision to expand the program was interesting in that it flew in the face of his usual immigration rhetoric.
The policy change was surprising. Trump has criticized other guest-worker programs for supposedly taking jobs away from Americans. He has resisted calls from the tech industry to expand the H-1B visa for high-skilled workers. He hasn’t increased visas in the H-2A program for seasonal farmworkers, even though the agriculture industry has lobbied for it. He even delayed the launch of a startup visa program that Obama created to help foreign tech entrepreneurs start businesses in the United States (though a federal judge in December ruled that the administration did not have legal standing to do so).
But Trump is not alone in his affinity for hiring foreign workers, which could make his 'buy American, hire America' stance a tough sell to the business community:
The Department of Labor says it’s swamped with applications from businesses that want to hire guest workers for the summer. By January 1, the department had received requests to hire 81,008 H-2B workers for the summer season. That number of applications far exceeds the program cap of 33,000 H-2B visas available for the season, which starts April 1.