On Monday, Donald Trump pledged that, if elected US president, he would scrap a work visa program that brings 300,000 student workers to the US annually. Notably, among businesses that would be forced to stop relying on foreign student labor to meet seasonal peaks is The Trump Organization LLC.
The J-1 visa program offers "cultural exchange" and gives American businesses access to guest worker "specialized skills," per State Department publications.
Trump suggests that the J-1 visa program was created at the behest of corporate leaders seeking to replace highly paid American workers with cheap skilled labor from abroad.
Not only would Trump undo the student worker visa program, but he has a plan on how to replace these workers – "I’m going to replace it with a resume bank for inner city youth that will be provided to all corporate subscribers to the J-1 visa program."
Trump’s Chicago hotel has been a major beneficiary of the J-1 visa program, according to dozens of Irish students employed at the facility. A majority of the hotel’s elite Terrace Restaurant staff are known to be students visiting the United States on J-1 visas. Additionally, the hotel has J-1 students working at the reception desk and at other hotel restaurants.
Sibéal Ní Cearbhalláin, a student in Dublin who worked for Trump as a hostess on the Terrace remarked, "I’m not sure he’s aware of the number of Irish students who go over and work for him, I don’t understand his mindset in saying he’d abolish the J-1 visa."
Trump argues that his role as a businessman is very different than what his role would be as the President of the United States. A businessman’s goal is to "be more profitable than your competitors who will seek every advantage in labor costs, overhead and taxes."
The job of the president, says Trump, is "to represent every single working American and the J-1 visa is something that I frankly use as a businessman and I shouldn’t be allowed to use it." He went on to say that the J-1 visa program needs to be immediately canceled and revoked because it is "very, very bad for American workers."
This isn’t the first time that Trump’s use of guest workers has been in conflict with his immigration platform. The Republican frontrunner has openly admitted to employing hundreds of temporary guest workers at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in jobs he says "American workers do not want."
In defending this conflict between his statements and his actions, Trump has stated that "we can’t expect individual companies to drive up their own costs, to do so would put that company and its workers at a competitive disadvantage against other businesses that would not follow suit."
Instead, Trump claims that new laws are required to apply not only to one business, but to every party down the line to ensure an equal footing for all business.