Exclusive: Trump's Use Of Foreign Workers In Florida Questioned
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PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – Donald Trump has bragged he would be the greatest jobs president God has ever created.
"I am so intent in putting people back to work in this country," Trump said recently. "Our country can be great again. We have to put people back to work."
Trump, however, doesn't need to be elected president to start hiring Americans for jobs now being given to foreigners.
A CBS4 News review of U.S. Labor Department records found that Trump businesses have requested hundreds of visas in recent years claiming they were unable to find Americans willing to do even the most basic tasks.
And that is particularly true at Trump's famed Palm Beach estate called Mar-A-Lago.
Every year since at least 2008, Mar-A-Lago has requested anywhere from 70 to 90 visas to bring foreign workers into the country as cooks, waiters and housekeepers. The starting pay is between $10 and $12 an hour.
"There are certainly a bunch of people that would love to work at that rate," said Michael Watson standing outside Career Source, a job placement service that helps businesses find workers.
"I'm pretty sure there are a lot of Americans out there who would work if you give them the opportunity," added Cassandra McCorkel.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, CBS4 News obtained records from the Labor Department detailing Mar-A-Lago's application to import foreign workers under the H2B Visa program.
Before seeking the visas, the executives Mar-A-Lago posted the job openings on a state website.
Tom Veenstra, senior director of support services at Career Source, said if Mar-A-Lago officials were interested in finding workers, all they had to do was contact him.
"We're here to find jobs for people in Palm Beach County," Veenstra said. "That's what we do. We do it for free."
Veenstra said he had no record of Mar-A-Lago's staff contacting Career Source for help. If they had he could have easily found them workers.
"We have many, many people, hundreds in our database for jobs just as these," Veenstra said. "And they would love to work there."
McCorkel wonders what would compel an employer to turn their back on local workers.
"Why are you going to bring other people from a foreign country and take care of them when you are not going to take care of the people that are here," she said.
One person who thinks she knows the answer is Wendi Walsh, president of UNITE HERE the local union representing hotel and restaurant workers.
"For the employer it's a real advantage," she said. "That employee can't go anywhere, they are not going to quit, they are not going to move to a competitor. If they leave the job they are subject to deportation. It's really as close to being an indentured servant as you can get."
Mar-A-Lago executives did not respond to questions about their hiring practices. Likewise, the Trump presidential campaign also ignored requests for comment.
However, Veenstra said his staff was able to finally meet with Mar-A-Lago officials about their hiring needs and he said he hoped going forward they would be able to provide those workers rather than importing foreign workers.
And it is not just in the hospitality industry that Trump uses visas to import workers.
A Reuters' investigation in August found Trump-related businesses have requested more than 1,100 visa workers including workers to till his vineyard and 250 models for his modeling agency.
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