Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida, that he calls the Winter White House, has asked the government for permission to hire 40 temporary foreign workers as waiters and waitresses, according to records posted by the Department of Labor on Thursday.
The request comes as the Trump administration’s policies regarding foreigners seeking to enter the country are facing sharp criticism. Trump has also been a strong proponent of US companies hiring fewer foreign workers and more American employees.
But in the case of Mar-a-Lago, he has defended the use of temporary foreign workers by saying that it is “very, very hard to get help” during the Florida tourist season.
The workers are being sought under the controversial H-2 visa program, which permits US employers to hire guest workers under temporary visas if no qualified US workers want the jobs.
No one from the club or the Trump Organization immediately responded to requests for comment Thursday. A spokesperson from the White House referred inquiries to the Trump Organization and Department of Labor.
Since Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, businesses owned by him or bearing his name have sought to hire more than 480 foreign guest workers, including more than 240 for Mar-a-Lago.
If the Department of Labor approves the requests, the club will be allowed to employ the workers from October 2018 through May 2019. The jobs would pay $12.68 per hour, with the possibility of additional overtime.
Since 2003, more than 100,000 foreigners have been brought in under the H-2A and H-2B programs each year. In late 2016, a special envoy from the United Nations said the federal guest worker program puts workers at risk of exploitation and even trafficking. A 2015 BuzzFeed News investigation found that H-2 workers were often exploited, and sometimes raped or beaten. BuzzFeed News also found that many Americans were denied jobs in favor of guest workers. Trump companies have not been accused of mistreating H-2 workers.