Two must-read pieces from ThinkProgress and the Daily Beast today highlight the ugly hypocrisy from Donald Trump.
While the leading Republican Presidential candidate has spent the last few weeks demonizing an entire community of immigrants, those same immigrants have been, to a very large extent, responsible for his massive financial success.
Michael Daily of the Daily Beast reports that it was a large group of undocumented laborers — “nicknamed the Polish Brigade because of their home country” — who demolished the building that would become the site of Trump’s “crown jewel” and “symbol of his “wealth,” the Trump Tower in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, says the report, some of those undocumented laborers were paid a few dollars an hour for their sweat — and some, nothing at all:
According to testimony in a protracted civil suit in federal court, the laborers were paid $5 an hour or less when they were paid at all. Some went unpaid after the contractor had financial troubles. A few never received even the paltry sum that was owed them for their dirty and hazardous efforts preceding the construction of Trump’s monument to his own wealth.
During testimony from a federal lawsuit against Trump, a number of those Polish workers said “Trump underlings had threatened them with deportation if they caused trouble. They walked in to the job from Brooklyn when a transit strike hit the city. Some of them slept at the site.”
But that’s not it either. Trump, who deemed the site too dangerous to visit for himself, seemed fine with putting the lives of laborers at risk without even making sure they had a wage:
Two workers further testified that they had approached Trump in person to demand overdue wages.
Trump took the stand, even back in those days sporting a red “power” tie, blue pinstriped suit, and that hair. He told the court that he almost certainly did not speak to the laborers, in part because he was fearful of venturing into so dangerous a workplace.
“I tend not to walk into buildings under demolition,” Trump said. “You have to be very brave to be in a building under demolition. I’m not sure I’m that brave.”
Meanwhile, in her ThinkProgress piece, Esther Lee highlights the immigrant workers who not only build Trump’s skyscrapers, but keep his entire empire across the nation running:
As a real estate tycoon, Donald Trump built up and has given his name to clothing lines, hotels, resorts, golf courses, a winery, and apartment buildings. And for a man who has unapologetically characterized Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, and has said that infectious diseases are spilling across the border, Trump has decided to work in industries where it’s impossible to avoid the Latino immigrants he is maligning.
In fact, it’s immigrants who keep his many golf courses beautifully manicured and operational:
About 180,000 maintenance workers keep the nation’s 15,619 golf courses green and pristine across the country. As a four-part Golf Digest series documented, immigrants do most of the maintenance work on golf courses. “We get up early and try to stay out of the way,” one golf course worker told Golf Digest. “We don’t know anything about the players, and they don’t know anything about us.”
Most of the time, American workers just aren’t “willing to do those jobs,” Chava McKeel, the associate director of government relations for the GCSAA said.
The Trump organization owns seven golf courses throughout the country. The PGA of America said on Tuesday that the Grand Slam of Golf tournament won’t be played at the Los Angeles golf club.
Immigrants also feed the visitors who decide to dine at restaurants located inside Trump’s properties:
The 2008 Pew Hispanic study found that about one in ten workers in the restaurant industry is an immigrant. Of those, about 20 percent of restaurant cooks and 30 percent of dishwashers are undocumented, Seattle’s KUOW reported.
Latinos are “disproportionately likely to be dishwashers, dining room attendants, or cooks, also relatively low-paid occupations,” an Economic Policy Institute report stated last year. The study also found that “one in six restaurant workers, or 16.7 percent, live below the official poverty line” while “more than two in five restaurant workers, or 43.1 percent, live below twice the poverty line.”
Though Trump is mainly in the hotel business, his establishments have restaurants, like the Trump Grill located in the atrium of the Trump Tower and The Terrace at Trump Chicago. However, his recent comments are threatening to derail plans for a new restaurant at the planned Trump International Hotel in D.C. At least 2,510 people have already signed a petition asking Chef Jose Andres to back out of working at the restaurant.
And immigrants also make sure Trump’s hotel guests have a very pleasant stay in his properties in New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, and other cities:
According to the 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 36,700 Latinos working in the building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations, such as janitors, maids and housekeepers, pest control workers, and grounds maintenance staff. There are also an additional 25,100 hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks who identify as Latino.
A 2009 study of workers across 50 U.S. hotels found that Latino women are twice as likely to be injured as white house keepers and 1.5 times more likely to be injured than men. The New York Times reported that housekeepers have a high injury rate since they have to do repetitive tasks, lift heavy mattresses, and work quickly to clean rooms.
“I have worked as a housekeeper for about 13 years. I work in pain constantly. My body aches all over, but most of all my back from bending and lifting throughout the day,” one housekeeper who worked at a Hyatt hotel said, according to a Work Safe report.
As Lee notes, one hotel magnate who realizes that his industry would not survive without the backbreaking labor from immigrants is J.W. Bill Marriot, who has smartly called for immigration reform many times.
Meanwhile, Trump bites at the hands that feed him.