Mar-a-Lago only briefly seeks out U.S. workers
President Donald Trump’s Mar-aLago Club needs to hire 35 waiters for this winter’s social season in Palm Beach, Fla.
Late last month, the club placed an ad on Page C8 of the Palm Beach Post, crammed full of tiny print laying out the job experience requirements in classified ad shorthand. “3 mos recent & verifiable exp in fine dining/country club,” the ad said. “No tips.”
The ad gave no email address or phone number. “Apply by fax,” it said. The ad also provided a mailing address. It ran twice, then never again.
This was an underwhelming way to attract local job-seekers. But that wasn’t the point. The ads were actually part of Mar-a-Lago’s efforts to hire foreign workers for those 35 jobs.
About a week before the ads ran, the president’s club asked the Labor Department for permission to hire 70 temporary workers from overseas, government records show. Beside the 35 waiters, it asked for 20 cooks and 15 housekeepers, slightly more than it hired last year.
To get visas for those workers, Mara-Lago, like other businesses that rely on temporary employees each year, must first take legally mandated steps to look for U.S. workers. That includes placing two ads in a newspaper.
Typically, this attempt to recruit U.S. workers is a ritualized failure. Its outcome is usually a conclusion that there are no qualified Americans to hire, justifying the need for the government to issue the visas.
In the past few days, that ritual began again at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s members-only club that opens every winter and has become a frequent destination for the president.
The club’s request for visas stood out because it came in the middle of “Made in America Week” at the White House. Even as Trump urged other U.S. businesses to “hire American,” his business was gathering evidence to prove that it couldn’t.
Officials at Mar-a-Lago and at the Trump Organization did not respond to questions for this article. Neither did a White House spokeswoman.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump defended his practice of using foreign workers at his club — even as he blamed immigrants for taking American jobs and keeping wages low for native-born workers.
“It’s very, very hard to get people. But other hotels do the exact same thing . ... This is a procedure. It’s part of the law,” he said during a Republican candidates debate in March 2016. “I take advantage of that. There’s nothing wrong with it. We have no choice.”
The category of visas requested by Mar-a-Lago is called H-2B, and the visas are intended for workers doing temporary jobs in nonagricultural fields.
Mar-a-Lago has relied on foreign workers since at least 2008, according to government documents.
Trump has resigned from leadership positions at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump Organization businesses. But he still owns them. And he has treated Mar-a-Lago as a second home.
In determining Mar-a-Lago’s visa applications, Labor Department spokesman Egan Reich said the president’s business would be treated like any other.
This week, there is a jobs fair in Palm Beach, where big resorts can meet prospective employees in person. At The Washington Post’s request, a job-placement center employee checked the list of attendees.
Mar-a-Lago isn’t going.
A worker walks along a road at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2016.