A Virginia winery owned by President Donald Trump’s son Eric is once again seeking permission to hire foreign guest workers — this time, 23 of them — according to a petition posted by the Department of Labor on Monday.
Trump Winery, also known as Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC, is seeking the workers under the federal H-2 visa program, which allows US employers to hire foreign laborers on a temporary basis as long as no qualified US workers want the jobs. The work on the 1,300-acre estate, which pays $12.25 an hour, would start in mid-March and could run through late October.
The posting Monday did not describe working conditions. In the past, however, the winery’s applications have warned that workers would have to labor outside in weather as cold as 10 degrees while “on their feet in bent positions for long periods of time.”
Since 2003, more than 100,000 foreigners have been brought into the country under the H-2 program each year.
Businesses owned by or bearing the name of Trump, who claimed he would “be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” have sought to hire more than 600 foreign guest workers since he launched his presidential campaign in June 2015. Many have worked as servers and house cleaners at Mar-a-Lago as well as at the president’s various golf clubs.
On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that “about a dozen employees” were fired from the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York, earlier this month “because they are undocumented immigrants.” In December, the New York Times reported that at least two housekeepers at another Trump National Golf Club — in Bedminster, New Jersey — were undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally.
Trump companies have not been accused of mistreating H-2 workers, but a 2015 BuzzFeed News investigation found that the H-2 program was rife with abuse. BuzzFeed News also found that many willing Americans were denied jobs by employers who preferred to hire guest workers, in some cases because they were less expensive to employ or because they would work longer hours under more difficult conditions.
When asked, previously, about requests to bring in foreign workers, Trump has said it is “almost impossible” to find Americans who want the jobs in question.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new guest worker petition, nor did the winery.
The winery’s website says it “is a registered trade name of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC, which is not owned, managed, or affiliated with Donald J. Trump or any of his affiliates.” Eric Trump was given the operation by his father in 2012, according to news reports.
In July 2015, shortly after launching his presidential campaign, Donald Trump hosted a campaign event at the winery. He later tweeted a link to a related Time article titled “Trump Talks Politics at His Virginia Winery.”
In August 2017, Trump told reporters that he owned the winery.
In the same news conference, following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that injured dozens and killed a young woman, he also said boosting employment could help heal racial divides.
“I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I’m creating jobs, I think that’s going to have a tremendous impact — positive impact on race relations,” Trump said.