21 October 2016
Donald Trump's companies have sought to import at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000. Photo: AFP
Donald Trump's companies have sought to import at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000. Photo: AFP

Trump firm sought visas to import 1,100 workers

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s major campaign promise is to protect American jobs.

But the New York property mogul owns companies that have sought to import at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000, according to Reuters, which reviewed data from the US Department of Labor.

Most of the applications were approved, the news agency reported.

Nine companies majority-owned by Trump have sought to bring in foreign waitresses, cooks, vineyard workers and other laborers on temporary work-visa programs administered by the labor department.

The candidate’s foreign talent hunt included applications for an assistant golf-course superintendent, an assistant hotel manager and a banquet manager.

Two of his companies, Trump Model Management and Trump Management Group LLC, have sought visas for nearly 250 foreign fashion models, the records show.

Trump’s presidential campaign and a lawyer for the businessman declined to comment, the news agency said.

Trump has emerged as an early frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination in the November 2016 presidential election.

He has positioned himself as a champion of American workers whose livelihoods are threatened by illegal foreign laborers and the offshoring of US jobs.

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God every created,” he said in announcing his candidacy on June 16. “I will bring back our jobs from China, Mexico and other places. I will bring back jobs and our money.”

Trump generated both notoriety and buzz by singling out Mexican immigrants in the United States. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said in the speech. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

In a speech on July 11, Trump distinguished between those working legally and illegally in the US, saying thousands of “legal” Mexicans – “incredible people” – have worked for him over the years.

The temporary work visa program through which Trump’s companies have sought the greatest numbers of workers, H-2B, brings in mostly workers from Mexico, Reuters said.

Mexicans made up more than 80 percent of the 104,993 admissions to the United States on H-2B visas in 2013. The Trump companies have sought at least 850 H-2B visa workers.

The H-2B program, which receives little government oversight, is used by companies in sectors ranging from hospitality to forestry to hire foreign workers for temporary jobs. Companies must prove that the jobs are seasonal – and that they tried and failed to hire Americans.

US government watchdogs have criticized the H-2B and H-2A programs over the years for failing to protect foreign and American workers alike.

In 2003, the Labor Department Inspector General said: “Abuses of these programs may result in economic harm to American workers and businesses, exploitation of foreign workers, and security risks associated with aliens who are admitted to this country by fraudulent means.”

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