Donald Trump is set to deliver a self-hyped speech on immigration on Wednesday evening in Arizona, where he has vowed to offer up at last the type of policy details that have gone noticeably missing since he began his presidential campaign with a promise to build a wall that Mexico would pay for. Let’s just say I’m skeptical that the GOP nominee will speak in the type of specificity voters deserve. But while we await his words on the subject, it’s worth looking back at the ways he has benefited both personally and professionally from a, let us say, relaxed attitude toward U.S. immigration law.
A Trump Contractor Hired Undocumented Polish Workers to Make Way for Trump Tower
Via PolitiFact, from February 2016:
Sometime between 1979 and 1980, Trump hired a contractor to demolish an old building in midtown Manhattan to make way for Trump Tower. The contractor signed on workers from a local union and, to meet Trump’s tight deadline, also brought on 200 undocumented laborers from Poland dubbed the “Polish Brigade.” The Polish employees were off-the-books, working 12-hour shifts seven days a week for $4 to $5 an hour, with no overtime. Some workers were never paid what they were owed.
Several years later, the local union sued Trump and his business associates for allegedly cheating it out of welfare and pension contributions by hiring the undocumented immigrants. Trump blamed the contractor and denied knowing anything about the immigration status of the Polish workers, but a New York judge went on to side with the union and ordered Trump to pay $325,000 plus interest. The real estate tycoon appealed that ruling and, before the case could be retried, quietly agreed to settle it out of court.
“He brings up something from 30 years ago,” Trump said during a GOP debate in February after Marco Rubio encouraged viewers to Google the lawsuit. “It worked out very well. Everybody was happy.”
Trump Hired Foreign Guest Workers at His Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach Instead of American Workers
Via the New York Times, from February 2016:
Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers [at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach]. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired. In all but a handful of cases, Mar-a-Lago sought to fill the jobs with hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries. … [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.
In order to get the necessary visas, Trump’s club told the U.S. government that, for the vast majority of the cases, it was simply unable to fill the openings with American workers. The Times and other outlets, however, found anecdotal evidence that some locals did indeed want the jobs—even though they appear to have been tailored to be particularly unappealing—while CNN discovered that the club did only the bare minimum required by law to advertise the available positions to Americans in the first place.
A Trump Contractor Probably Hired Undocumented Workers to Finish His New Luxury Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Via the Washington Post, from July 2015:
[A] Trump company may be relying on some undocumented workers to finish the $200 million hotel, which will sit five blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to several who work there. … Interviews with about 15 laborers helping renovate the Old Post Office Pavilion revealed that many of them had crossed the U.S-Mexico border illegally before they eventually settled in the Washington region to build new lives.
Several of the men, who hail mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, have earned U.S. citizenship or legal status through immigration programs targeting Central Americans fleeing civil wars or natural disasters. Others quietly acknowledged that they remain in the country illegally.
Trump’s lawyer shrugged off the report much the same way his boss did during the 1980s controversy over Trump Tower. “Mr. Trump, who is the 100 percent owner of the Old Post Office, hired one of the largest contractors in the world to act as the general contractor,” Trump exec Michael D. Cohen told the Post. “That company is Lend Lease. They then go out and employ subcontractors to work for them. The obligation to check all workers on site is exclusive to Lend Lease. This of course assumes that the assertion regarding the employees’ status is accurate.”
Trump’s Modeling Agency Used Foreign Models Working Here Illegally on Tourist Visas
Via Mother Jones, from Aug. 30, 2016:
[T]he mogul’s New York modeling agency, Trump Model Management, has profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here, according to three former Trump models, all noncitizens, who shared their stories with Mother Jones. Financial and immigration records included in a recent lawsuit filed by a fourth former Trump model show that she, too, worked for Trump’s agency in the United States without a proper visa.
One of the models, Canadian-born Rachel Blais, offered up documentation to the magazine to support her claim that she preformed a series of U.S. modeling jobs for Trump’s agency after signing with it in March 2004—despite the fact she did not yet have the legal right to work in this country. Among the gigs: appearing on Trump’s reality TV show, The Apprentice, modeling outfits designed by the contestants.
Earlier this month, Politico raised similar questions about Melania Trump’s immigration status when she first began working as a model in the United States in the mid-1990s, roughly a decade before she married Donald Trump. Her former modeling agent subsequently claimed that he had obtained the necessary work visa for her. That, however, does not line up with the official story from Melania and the Trump campaign, which maintains that she had to return regularly to Slovenia during that time so as not to violate U.S. law. (The anecdote appears to have been designed to show that she, unlike the millions her husband wants out, did things by the book.)
Team Trump has repeatedly declined to discuss Melania’s immigration history in detail since—just as he has nearly everything else.