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Trump Hates Legal Immigration, Except When He Loves It

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Trump’s Businesses and His Family Use Immigration Pathways and Also Have a Long History of Hiring and Exploiting Undocumented Workers He’s Demonized for Political Gain

Indicted former President Donald Trump seeks to impose “unprecedented restrictions” on legal immigration if he returns to power in January 2025 – except, it seems, when it fattens his pockets. Truth Social, the right-wing social media site owned and regularly used by Trump, applied for and was approved for a type of worker visa “that he sought to restrict during his administration and which many of his allies want him to curtail in a potential second term,” the Associated Press reports.

“Trump Media & Technology Group, the company behind Truth Social, filed an application in June 2022 for an H-1B visa for a worker at a $65,000 annual salary, the lowest wage category allowed under the program,” the AP said. “Federal immigration data shows the company was approved for a visa a few months later. The company says it did not hire the worker.”

“The lowest wage category allowed under the program”? That sounds about right regarding Trump, a noted cheapskate with a history of stiffing chandelier shops, curtain makers, and other small businesses. But the news about Truth Social’s application also squares with Trump’s long history of taking advantage of immigration policies he publicly opposes. Trump, for example, campaigned on the false claim that immigrants are “taking our jobs.” However, reports from 2016 revealed his Mar-a-Lago resort had pursued more than 500 foreign worker visas in the preceding years. The Trump Organization then secured the highest number of visas after Trump took office. What a coincidence.

“The Trump Organization requested and received at least 192 visas for foreign workers in 2018, according to Department of Labor data,” TPM reported in 2019. “That number appears to be the highest for the company going back to at least 2008 and likely much earlier, based on public records.” The largest number of visas went, unsurprisingly, to Mar-a-Lago, where rich members were able to buy personal tours of Air Force One, pick out ambassadorships like they were shopping for a new handbag, and even run a federal department. Job requirements: a six-figure initiation fee (which doubled after Trump became president – yet another coincidence!)

But no overview of Trump’s duplicitous actions would be complete without his business’s similarly extensive history of hiring and exploiting undocumented workers. Those who’ve been paying attention to his escalating rhetoric over the past several months know that he’s used dehumanizing language to attack immigrants, echoing Adolf Hitler by calling them “animals” and saying they’re “poisoning the blood of our country.” But it’s been immigrants who’ve quite literally built his empire.

Decades ago, it was undocumented workers – “nicknamed the Polish Brigade because of their home country,” the Daily Beast reported in 2015 – who demolished the building that would eventually become the site of Trump’s crown jewel and symbol of his wealth, Trump Tower (though it could at risk due to his civil fraud trial – that’s a whole other story). Unsurprisingly, many of these laborers were underpaid – or not paid at all. Trump would later settle with them for $1 million, documents revealed.

We also know about Trump’s use of undocumented labor because of brave workers like Victorina Morales, who stepped forward to speak out about working as a housekeeper at his Bedminster resort in New Jersey. 

Morales, who is originally from Guatemala and worked at Bedminster for five years, was such a fixture at the resort that for her exceptional work, she “was given a certificate from the White House Communications Agency inscribed with her name.” She worked so closely to Trump that she made his bed, cleaned his golf trophies, and even washed the bronzer stains off his clothes. Morales knew she did fine work. “There are millions of us here without papers, and the country depends on us,” she told Vox in 2019. But she was shocked and hurt when she heard how her then-boss talked about hardworking immigrants like her.

“We saw [Trump’s] attitude on television, the things he said about immigrants like us without papers,” Morales told Vox in 2019.” Then I had to look at him and smile when he was at the club and clean for him. It was too much to bear.” Morales also told The New York Times that there were “many people without papers” at Bedminster. The Washington Post corroborated her claim, reporting a “pipeline” of undocumented workers at the New Jersey resort that “goes back years.” 

The pipeline also stretched to Virginia. “Univision News interviewed seven undocumented employees who claim to have worked producing Trump wine in the state of Virginia,” the outlet reported in 2019. The Trump Winery already has a history of hiring foreign workers, requesting nearly two dozen work visas for the 2019 season. But Univision’s investigation found the winery exploited undocumented immigrant labor, both in the vineyard itself and in the hotel on the grounds, forcing some to work long hours without overtime pay. The Trump Organization ended up firing a number of its undocumented workers – but in true grifter fashion, not until after the harvest was over.

“The timing of the firings at the rural Virginia winery, 11 months after the company began purging the ranks of undocumented greenskeepers and cooks at Trump golf courses, came during the vineyard’s winter downtime,” The Post reported on New Year’s Eve 2019. “Workers had finished the arduous annual grape harvest, which involved working 60-hour weeks and overnight shifts under floodlights.” 

Some of the workers had been there for years. “They didn’t make this decision in the summer because they needed us a lot then,” tractor driver Omar Miranda told The Post. “I think they wanted to get their product out well, the grapes, to make sure that was taken care of, and once things were slow, they could fire us all.” The pipeline also extended to the now-defunct Trump Hotel in D.C., which likely also used undocumented labor.

Finally, there’s the Trump family itself. Despite deriding family-based immigration as “chain migration” – including issuing a scathing “It’s Time to End Chain Migration” statement in 2017 that complained that immigrants “can bring in their entire extended families, who can bring in their families and so on” – Trump’s family is here because of it. 

Trump’s mother was born in Scotland and arrived to the U.S. in 1930 to join three of her sisters. Two of Trump’s wives have been immigrants. Recently, The Post reported that Melania Trump sponsored her late mother through so-called “chain migration” – or what most people call, legal family-based immigration. However, the former First Lady would have been barred from quickly doing so under a bill endorsed by her husband in 2017, which “would have limited priority sponsorship to the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, taking parents off the fast-track list.” 

Trump has spent nearly a decade as a political figure demonizing immigrants as takers, criminals, and an existential threat to the nation. But as the extensive record shows, he’s hired them to clean and care for his homes, feed and cater to his resort guests, and help build his empire, quite literally. He’s even married a couple of them. But while Trump has belligerently claimed that without his racist and draconian policies, “we won’t have a country,” others might argue that immigration has been quite good to him.