National Politics - 2016

Donald Trump’s Visa Confusion

POSITION ON H-1B VISAS DRAWS SCRUTINY GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has long opposed expanding the federal government’s H-1B visa program, saying it would “decimate American workers.” The controversial program permits foreign nationals to work in America for anywhere from three to six years – usually in high-tech computer positions.  The…


GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has long opposed expanding the federal government’s H-1B visa program, saying it would “decimate American workers.”

The controversial program permits foreign nationals to work in America for anywhere from three to six years – usually in high-tech computer positions.  The program is supposed to be capped at 65,000 visas a year, but it routinely brings in more than twice that number due to an array of exemptions.

During a “Republican” debate in Detroit on Thursday night, Trump signaled a shift in his position on H-1B visas.

“I’m changing. We need highly-skilled people in this country,” Trump said during the debate. “If we can’t do it, we will get them in.”

“So you are abandoning the position on your website?” debate anchor Megyn Kelly asked Trump.

“I’m changing it and I’m softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country,” Trump responded.

Roughly an hour after the GOP debate concluded, Trump’s campaign issued a statement looking to clarify his position …

Megyn Kelly asked about highly-skilled immigration. The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse and ending outrageous practices such as those that occurred at Disney in Florida when Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements. I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.

Hmmmm …

We’ve never had a problem with the H-1B program – a narrow form of legal immigration.  Our issue is with government policies that encourage widespread illegal immigration – then seek to bestow citizenship upon illegal immigrants.

Our nation – which is currently more than $19 trillion in debt – simply cannot afford such an “open borders” policy.

Of course the real problem exposed by the H-1B visa controversy is America’s disastrous education system – which has been crippled by decades of excessive government intervention.

Until we return to an outcome-based, market-driven system of education – our nation will continue producing dumb generations incapable of filling the U.S. market for high-tech jobs.


Related posts

National Politics - 2016

Donald Trump Outworked Hillary Clinton

National Politics - 2016


National Politics - 2016

Only 1,400 Sign SC Democratic “Elector Petition”



Nölff March 4, 2016 at 8:11 am

Donald Trump gets angry when you read him Donald Trump quotes to him. Megyn Kelly knows all about that.

Rocky Verdad March 4, 2016 at 8:16 am

Yeah, he’s all twitchy and nuts. I think the guy needs new meds.

Buzz Martin March 4, 2016 at 8:35 am

But Will wants him to have The Red Phone and The Nuclear Football.
Go figure.

Rocky Verdad March 4, 2016 at 9:25 am

Obama put it right a couple weeks ago, Trump won’t be President of the United States because we have faith in the American people to not elect such a fool.

guest March 4, 2016 at 11:00 am

But they did elect a foreign born, Marxist, America hating, racist, mystery man. Twice. Anything’s possible.

Jack March 4, 2016 at 11:34 am

Rafael Cruz?

Rocky Verdad March 4, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Yes Flip, we know!!!

Hank March 4, 2016 at 9:57 am

better than the guy who freezes up in debates and can’t get through a speech without grabbing a water and sweating. Better than the religious nut who whose father says he is a King and who has said he will carpet bomb the middle east until the sand glows.

Is he trying to bring about Armageddon?

STFU March 4, 2016 at 10:21 am

That’s because he paid Will for his “endorsement” and favorable articles as well as his smear campaign against Foam Boy Rubio and Maple Leaf Rafael Cruz.

idcydm March 4, 2016 at 8:23 am

I thought the best line in the debate last night was: “I will not take the bait”.

Flip March 4, 2016 at 8:32 am

How can you be against outsourcing and illegal immigration and be for H1B visas?

Buzz Martin March 4, 2016 at 8:37 am

It’s not immigration, though. It’s a VISA program. Temporary. Different.

I’m actually more concerned about EB-15 VISA abuses, as China is the biggest user of those.

Flip March 4, 2016 at 8:43 am

There’s nothing “temporary” about the way companies are using H1Bs

Roger March 4, 2016 at 8:36 am

No, Donald Trump wasn’t talking about H1B VISAs.

Bible Thumper March 4, 2016 at 9:39 am

Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., describes itself as “one of the most highly regarded private clubs in the world,” and it is not just the very-well-to-do who want to get in.

Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired.

In all but a handful of cases, Mar-a-Lago sought to fill the jobs with hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries.

In his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. Trump has stoked his crowds by promising to bring back jobs that have been snatched by illegal immigrants or outsourced by corporations, and voters worried about immigration have been his strongest backers.

But he has also pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago since 2010, according to the United States Department of Labor, while hundreds of domestic applicants failed to get the same jobs.

The visas are issued through one of a handful of legal and often debated programs through which employers can temporarily hire foreign workers when American labor is not available. As part of its applications for the visas submitted to the Labor Department, Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago attested that in the vast majority of cases, it was unable to fill the positions with American workers, or, as he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in September, “getting help in Palm Beach during the season is almost impossible.”

Asked why his club must seek so many foreign workers when Americans have applied for the same positions, Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview from Mar-a-Lago this month: “The only reason they wouldn’t get a callback is that they weren’t qualified, for some reason. There are very few qualified people during the high season in the area.”

Mr. Trump, who supports legal immigration, drew a parallel with grape growers in California who need extra laborers during the harvest.

“I want to protect our borders,” he said. “I also want to protect our businesses. They have to come in legally, and then they go back. Certain areas, in really successful areas, where we can’t get help, many people do that. That’s a good thing. Otherwise, you hurt your business.”

From Florida resorts to Midwestern farms to Silicon Valley technology companies, the number of guest workers has been growing, even as labor advocates have accused employers of using the programs to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. The Labor Department is investigating whetheroutsourcing companies hired by Disney used such a program to replace American employees who were qualified and already doing the jobs.

In Palm Beach County, Tom Veenstra, senior director of support services at CareerSource, a job placement service, took issue with Mr. Trump’s contention that he could not staff his clubs with locals. “We have hundreds of qualified applicants for jobs like those,” he said.

After a report by Reuters in July about Mr. Trump’s use of guest workers, executives from Mar-a-Lago met with recruiters from Mr. Veenstra’s agency, promising to request local workers for 50 positions.

But Mar-a-Lago sent over just a single job request, for a banquet server. Mr. Veenstra said CareerSource referred four applicants to the club, and one of them got the job.

Since then, Mr. Veenstra said, “we haven’t received any other job orders.”

Other clubs in the Palm Beach area on Florida’s east coast, including the Breakers, a well-known beachfront resort near Mar-a-Lago, also use guest workers. Industry experts say they can be attractive to employers because they are essentially a captive work force.

The foreign employees must be paid the Labor Department-approved “prevailing wage” for the job and location. But they can work only for the company that sponsored the visa, and cannot, for instance, switch to another resort down the road where the pay is better without a new visa approval. A 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office found that guest workers’ precarious position tended to discourage complaints about mistreatment by employees fearful of retaliation by the employer.

Mr. Trump with his wife, Melania Trump, center, and daughter Ivanka Trump during an event at Mar-a-Lago in 2014.

“You almost have them as indentured servants,” said Danny Fontenot, the director of the hospitality program at Palm Beach State College. “And they affect everyone else’s wages. You can make a lot of money by never having to give your employees raises.”

Greg Schell, a lawyer in Palm Beach County who has helped foreign guest workers sue employers over labor violations, said companies frequently made little effort to find local employees before applying for visas.

“I have seen no demonstrated need to import guest workers for the hospitality industry,” Mr. Schell said. “Employers who want to find American workers find them.”

For at least 15 years, according to the Labor Department, Mr. Trump’s properties have requested guest-worker visas, including at the Mar-a-Lago Club, the former estate of the cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, where the initiation fee alone is $100,000.

Housekeepers from abroad ensure that the venue’s eight seaside cabanas are spotless, the Dorian stone from Genoa shines and the lavish guest rooms and suites in the main house, an 89-year-old mansion in the Hispano-Moresque style, are fresh for visitors.

Foreign workers prepare meals and serve them at the beachfront bistro or the main dining room, and deliver cocktails at wedding receptions in the elegant White & Gold Ballroom or the more recently built Donald J. Trump Ballroom. From October to May, tourism’s high season in Palm Beach, Mr. Trump can often be found at the club on weekends.

He has also sought guest workers at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach and Trump National golf club and spa in Jupiter, Fla., as well as at his vineyard in Virginia and golf clubs in New Jersey.

It is not clear how many visas were actually granted to Mar-a-Lago or other Trump properties. While the Labor Department certifies a company’s need for visas, it is up to Homeland Security and the State Department to grant them, and those departments said they were unable to provide information on how many visas each employer had received. Mr. Trump and other resort owners use a type of visa, designated H-2B, for temporary, low-skill, nonfarm workers; there is a nationwide limit of 66,000 such visas a year.

Renee L. Seymore, who applied to be a waitress at Mar-a-Lago last year, at her home in Opa-Locka, Fla. “They told me I had a great interview,” she said. “But I never heard anything back.”


Before it can be granted approval to hire foreign workers through H-2B visas, an employer has to advertise the openings on a state website of job listings and twice in a local newspaper, and to report the number of local applicants and hires to the federal government.

According to records Mar-a-Lago submitted to the Labor Department, it had received at least 296 local names for 520 seasonal jobs since 2010. Some applied directly to the club; others were referred through a job placement service.

Mar-a-Lago hired 17, about 6 percent of the local applicants, the records show.

For anyone not hired, the employer must tell the Labor Department why. Among the reasons Mar-a-Lago gave: that the applicants could not be reached or were not qualified, as Mr. Trump suggested in his recent interview, and that they did not want the jobs.

That was the case for Austin L. Cohen of Delray Beach, who received a call from Mar-a-Lago and a tour of the 20-acre resort after sending in his résumé for a wait staff position that paid $10.60 an hour for at least 30 hours a week.

Mr. Cohen said that he ultimately chose to keep looking for a permanent job, and that he wanted benefits; the job listing did not mention any.

“It was more like a temporary position,” Mr. Cohen said. “You work six months and then you’re out of work again. It was my decision not to take the job.”

Some applicants said they decided against working at Mar-a-Lago because, like some other private clubs, it discourages gratuities; its job listings say “no tips.” Local labor analysts say that private clubs often lose job candidates to restaurants where tipping is permitted.

But Renee L. Seymore, who applied to be a waitress at Mar-a-Lago last year, said she would have gladly taken the job, and thought her chances were good.

“They told me I had a great interview,” said Ms. Seymore, 22, who had worked in a barbecue restaurant. “But I never heard anything back.”

Mar-a-Lago did not respond to a question about why Ms. Seymore was passed over. The New York Times obtained the names of Mr. Cohen, Ms. Seymore and other applicants through Florida’s open-records law, but the state-provided records did not give the reasons for not hiring particular candidates.

Several other applicants contacted by The Times had criminal records, but Mar-a-Lago did not state that as a reason for rejecting anyone.

To find foreign workers for his resorts, golf clubs and vineyard, Mr. Trump uses a recruiter based in upstate New York, Peter Petrina. Mr. Petrina, who declined to comment, is of Romanian descent and has an office in Romania, which has served as a labor pool for many European countries.

Employers are obligated to pay for workers’ transportation to the United States and any recruitment fees. The visas are valid for 10 months, although in some circumstances, they can be extended to three years.

Mr. Petrina recruits for other American employers, but highlights his connection to Mr. Trump in Romania, where newspaper articles say that he tries to recruit young people who take hospitality courses in college.

Local workers like Bonafacio Quevedo say they are being forced to compete with the imported workers. He said he was turned away from Trump International Golf Club when he applied in 2012 despite having previously worked as a waiter there and at Mar-a-Lago. Today he works full time at a nearby club.

“A lot of big establishments hire from foreign countries,” he said. “But there are a lot of local people looking for work.”

Kit Gillet and Griff Palmer contributed reporting.

© 2016 The New York Times Company

Tom March 4, 2016 at 9:54 am

You can just link the article. No need to cut and paste the entire article.

RINO March 4, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Who cares, so long as he burns the Republican establishment to the ground

Bible Thumper March 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Trump won’t stop with the Republican establishment. He will continue to burn down the country.

Nat March 4, 2016 at 1:54 pm

There is no confusion for me. Donald just demonstrated once again, that he is saying what he thinks his base wants to hear to get elected. The man has no depth.

Bible Thumper March 4, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Rick Manning praises Cruz, but seems to want to ignor Cruz’s repeated charge that Trump is a con-man.

TankMcNamara March 4, 2016 at 5:19 pm

with apologies to Shifty Henry:

a guy walks into a muslim book store and asks the proprietor if he has the latest book by Donald Trump. The proprietor screams “get the hell out and never come back”! The guys says “that’s the one! Got it in paperpack”?


Leave a Comment