04:59 GMT22 January 2021
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    Donald Trump has been losing business contracts left and right following his controversial remarks about immigrants. But tensions are also running high at the construction site of Trump’s latest luxury hotel in the US capital, where immigrant workers, disgusted by the presidential candidate’s comments, quietly toil away.

    An historic spot in Washington, DC, the Old Post Office building was completed in 1899. With its 315-foot clock tower offering one of the best views in downtown, the Romanesque Revival architectural style is unique for a capital teeming with neoclassical design.

    For the past few months, though, the 116-year-old building has been surrounded by overwhelming blue billboards bearing the name "Trump." The development has been over two years in the making, since the Trump Organization won leasing rights to the building despite protests from rival bidders that the leasing authority had failed to consider Trump’s habit of filing for bankruptcy.

    By 2016, the Old Post Office Pavilion will become Trump International Hotel, a $200-million project complete with affluent restaurants and a huge ballroom. But to convert the structure in time, Trump’s contractors rely on low-wage immigrant workers, most of whom are either furious at their employer or afraid of losing their jobs.

    "The majority of us are Hispanics, many who came illegally," Ivan Arellano, one of the construction workers, told the Washington Post. "And we’re all here working very hard to build a better life for our families."

    The Old Post Pavilion in Washington, DC.
    © Flickr / Ken Lund
    The Old Post Pavilion in Washington, DC.

    The concern stems from comments made by Trump during his presidential announcement, in which he referred to the majority of immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border as being rapists and drug dealers. In addition to a general guffaw, the comments were also met by a series of major business partners severing ties with the billionaire.

    On Monday, Trump doubled down (for perhaps the fourth time, now) on those statements, adding that Mexican immigrants are also responsible for "tremendous infectious disease…pouring across the border."

    The remarks have sparked some resentment on the job site, to say the least.

    "Do you think that when we’re hanging out there from the eighth floor that we’re raping or selling drugs?" Ramon Alvarez, a window worker, told the Post. "We’re risking our lives and our health. A lot of the chemicals we deal with are toxic."

    "Most of the workers here are migrants," Ahmad Samadi, a site foreman who emigrated from Afghanistan, said. "I don’t think it’s right, what he said. They’re hard workers."

    Others even worry about their job security. If Trump’s candidacy is going to rely on appealing to anti-immigration hardliners who applaud a promise to "build a great, great wall on our southern border," that could make it necessary for him to cut ties with any employees who could harm his image.

    "Most of the concern is that this escalates into a bigger problem," Daniel Gonzalez, a sheet metal worker, told the Post. "He might come one day and pretty much tell us to get the heck out of here."

    The Trump Organization has already released a response to the expose in the Post, noting that the construction employment specifics fall under the jurisdiction of the contracting firm, and insists it “requires all contractors performing work at the project to follow all applicable federal, state and local laws.”

    "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," Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s legal counsel, 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."

    As Trump the Politician continues to toss unfounded vitriol at a large segment of the population, it’s likely to go on having severe consequences for Trump the Businessman. Univision, NBC Universal, ESPN, Macy’s department stores, and a number of other companies are swiftly abandoning any associations with the billionaire.

    "The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States," Trump reiterated in Monday’s statement. "They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc."

    If he made it down to his construction site every now and again, he would see this is hardly the case.


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    Old Post Office, Trump International Hotel, immigration, 2016 election, Univision, NBC Universal, ESPN, Donald Trump, Washington, D.C, US
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