PALM BEACH — In behavior that could be described as discordant at best and utterly hypocritical at worst, President Donald Trump—via his Mar-a-Lago resort and another Florida golf course— applied for 76 worker visas during July’s “Made in America Week.”
The result? Palm Beach‘s Mar-a-Lago has now been given permission to hire 70 maids, servers and cooks for the 2017-2018 season. (It would seem that building walls is not so desirable from a hiring perspective!)
Sen. Marco Rubio was famously critical of the practice at the expense of domestic employment and called out the president-to-be in a March 2016 presidential debate. Indeed, Trump himself was critical of Ford Motor and Carrier Corp. for doing the same.
“It’s very, very hard to get people,” he offered by way of meager defense. “Other hotels do the exact same thing.”
With unemployment in Palm Beach County at a mere 3.6% as of September, the president may have a rare point.
Trump is certainly not alone, though, in hiring foreign workers for his Florida clubs. According to U.S. Labor Department data analyzed by the Palm Beach Post, employers in Palm Beach County are increasingly seeking staff from overseas, with 2,159 temporary positions being granted approval for the 2017-2018 tourist season. This is up from 1,844 such workers in Palm Beach County for 2016-2017.
The highest concentration of foreign workers in the county can be found at Boca West Country Club, where plans are to hire 367 employees on H-2B visas for 2017-2018.
While wages for the workers at Boca West are consistent with last year’s offerings, pay at The Breakers and Mar-a-Lago is on the rise. The highest pay at The Breakers jumped from $12.74/hr. last year to $14.13/hr., and Mar-a-Lago has increased the wage of its cooks from $11.88/hr. to $13.34/hr. (Housekeepers saw a jump from $10.17 to $10.33.)
The claim that good help wasn’t available stateside was disputed by job placement company CareerSource Palm Beach County.
“We currently have 5,136 qualified candidates in Palm Beach County for various hospitality positions listed in the Employ Florida state jobs database,” said Tom Veenstra, a spokesman for the company, on Friday.
Veenstra went on to point out that Mar-a-Lago seldom reaches out to CareerSource for its staffing needs, with a request for a single banquet server in 2015 being a notable exception.
Saying one thing and doing another must somehow fall under the heading of “Making America Great Again.”