A Virginia winery owned by President Donald Trump’s son Eric is seeking permission to hire another six foreign guest workers, according to a petition posted by the Department of Labor on Thursday.
Trump Winery, also known as Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC, is seeking the workers under the federal H-2 visa program, which permits US employers to hire foreign laborers under temporary work visas as long as no qualified US workers want the jobs. The work on the 1,300-acre estate, which would pay $11.46 an hour, is to start in February and could run through late July.
The posting Thursday did not describe working conditions, but in the past, foreign workers at the winery have been warned they 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.
Trump has claimed he would “be the greatest jobs president that God ever created” and pledged to create 25 million US jobs over the next decade. Yet businesses owned by Trump or bearing his name have sought to hire more than 570 foreign guest workers since he launched his presidential campaign in June 2015. Many have worked as servers and house cleaners at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida golf club that is informally referred to as the Winter White House.
Among the other Trump properties that have requested H-2 workers is Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. On Thursday, the New York Times reported that at least two housekeepers who worked at that club were undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally.
A 2015 BuzzFeed News investigation found that the H-2 program was rife with abuse. Trump companies have not been accused of mistreating H-2 workers, but in a range of industries they have been exploited, beaten, or raped. BuzzFeed News also found that many Americans were denied jobs in favor of guest workers.
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 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.”
“We need to take back our jobs, we need to take back our factories,” the article quotes Trump as saying at the campaign event.
In August 2017, speaking to reporters following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that injured dozens and killed a young woman, Trump told the media that he owned the winery.
In the same news conference, 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.