The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - The As­so­ci­ated Press

As Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump touts job cre­ation for Amer­i­cans as a top pri­or­ity, his son’s Vir­ginia win­ery is seek­ing per­mis­sion to hire for­eign work­ers to cul­ti­vate grapes.

Trump Vine­yard Es­tates asked to bring in 29 work­ers this sea­son through the fed­eral H-2A visa pro­gram, The Daily Progress re­ported. The pro­gram en­ables agri­cul­tural em­ploy­ers who an­tic­i­pate a short­age of do­mes­tic work­ers to bring for­eign work­ers to the United States to do agri­cul­tural jobs or per­form other sea­sonal ser­vices.

Trump Vine­yard Es­tates — owned by Eric Trump — ini­tially ap­plied for six for­eign work­ers in De­cem­ber. Two months later, the com­pany ap­plied for 23 more. Both job or­ders say the pri­mary tasks in­clude plant­ing and cul­ti­vat­ing vines, adding grow tubes and prun­ing grape vines.

H-2A work­ers and U.S. work­ers in cor­re­spond­ing em­ploy­ment must be paid a cer­tain rate — $10.72 an hour for vine­yard farm work­ers in Vir­ginia this year.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to find peo­ple,” said Libby Whit­ley, an at­tor­ney who has worked with em­ploy­ers, in­clud­ing Trump Win­ery, on la­bor is­sues.

But news re­ports that fol­lowed the win­ery’s De­cem­ber re­quests for the visas prompted crit­i­cism over the re­quest.

Whit­ley said she as­sumed her com­pany would be flooded with peo­ple ap­ply­ing for the jobs be­cause of the me­dia cov­er­age.

“Guess how many ap­pli­cants we had? … 13,” she said. “And they were all from places like the Philip­pines, In­done­sia, Kenya, Nige­ria. We did not have one Amer­i­can worker ap­ply.”

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