One of the top headlines on the front page of this morning's New York Times reads "Foreign Labor Fills Vacancies at Trump Club." The story details the Mar-a-Lago resort's preference for hiring foreign workers through the H-2B visa program over hundreds of American workers who were referred to the club for jobs. It's interesting to see the story in the Times' after it ignored the fact that the massive omnibus spending bill passed by Congress in December quadrupled the H-2B visa program for FY2016.
According to the Times:
"[Trump] has also pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago since 2010, according to the United States Department of Labor, while hundreds of domestic applicants failed to get the same jobs."
The Times' reporters were able to locate some of the American workers who applied for jobs with the club. A few passed on job offers, while others simple were never offered jobs and not told why.
During last night's GOP debate, Sen. Marco Rubio led the charge against Trump's hiring practices.
"And so even today, we saw a report in one of the newspapers that Donald, you've hired a significant number of people from other countries to take jobs that Americans could have filled.
"My mom and dad -- my mom was a maid at a hotel, and instead of hiring an American like her, you have brought in over a thousand people from all over the world to fill those jobs instead.
"So I think this is an important issue. And I think we are realizing increasingly that it's an important issue for the country that has been debated for 30 years, but finally needs to be solved once and for all."
It was a personal moment for Sen. Rubio, and one that may have scored some political points for his Presidential candidacy. But was Rubio thinking of his mom and dad while he helped draft the Gang of 8 bill in 2013 that would have doubled existing guest worker programs? Was he thinking of American workers when he co-introduced S.153 last year -- a bill that would massively expand the H-1B high-skilled guest worker visa program? And was he thinking of American workers when he voted to grant Pres. Obama fast track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would allow an unlimited number of foreign workers from the participating countries to work in the U.S. through the L-1 visa program and compete with American workers for jobs?
Just hours before Sen. Rubio's attack on Trump and Mar-a-Lago, the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), held a hearing on the impact of guest worker programs on American workers. Leo Perrero, a former tech worker at Disney World, told his emotional story of being fired by Disney and forced to train his foreign worker replacement as a condition of his severance package.
"Your jobs have been given over to a foreign workforce. In the meantime you will be training your replacements until your jobs are 100 percent transferred over to them and if you don’t cooperate you will not receive any severance pay. ...
"The situation at Disney is not an anomaly. This same abuse is happening nationwide."
In recent years, thousands of American workers at Disney World, Southern California Edison, Toys 'R' Us, Northeast Utilities, and more have been replaced by foreign workers through the H-1B guest worker program. And the Obama Administration has posted a proposed rule for public comment that would allow H-1B workers to stay and work in the country indefinitely after the six-year limit placed on the visa by Congress expires. (You can post a comment in opposition to this rule before the Feb. 29 deadline at StopOverreach.com.)
But through it all, both the New York Times and Sen. Rubio have mostly ignored stories like Perrero's. The Times' has no mention of yesterday's Senate hearing in today's paper or on its website despite decent coverage of the Disney lay-offs from its immigration reporter Julia Preston in recent months. And Sen. Rubio remains a sponsor of legislation that would more than double the number of H-1B visas issued each year even though the Disney lay-offs occurred in his own state. Meanwhile, his Senate colleague, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), has introduced legislation with Sen. Sessions that would reduce the number of H-1B visas by 15,000 per year and prioritize them to jobs that pay the highest salaries.
Sen. Rubio has added an entire page on his website highlighting Trump's use of foreign workers over the years, while his own immigration plan contains only an excerpt from his book that describes a plan very similar to the Gang of 8's. Last night he claimed this is "an important issue for the country", but when asked by Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo in an earlier debate on whether or not he still supports the Gang of 8 plan to double legal immigration, he dodged the question.
Eventually, Rubio will have to answer, but it'll be up to media outlets like the Times and his fellow Presidential Hopefuls to force him to do so.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Mar 11th 2016 @ 10:10am EST