BUSINESS
08/31/2016 11:38 am ET

Ivanka Trump’s Jewelry Business Sought Visas To Hire Foreign Workers

She's taking advantage of a policy her father wants to end.
Donald Trump portrays immigrants as criminals here to steal American jobs. But he and his daughter aren't exactly a
Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Donald Trump portrays immigrants as criminals here to steal American jobs. But he and his daughter aren't exactly anti-immigrant in their businesses.

Donald Trump has based his campaign on strident anti-immigration antagonism, promising to bring millions of jobs back to America, build a “great wall” to protect the southern border and save Americans from dangerous criminals here to take their jobs.

His daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, has offered a gentler, more polished version of his message, in an attempt to make the candidate sound less xenophobic.

But like her father’s clothing line, Ivanka-branded products are made overseas using cheap labor. And like her father’s businesses, which use the same guest worker programs he says keep wages down, federal immigration records show that Ivanka Trump’s jewelry enterprise has applied for guest worker visas to hire foreigners.

Between 2008 and 2013, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry applied for five H-1B visas ― which allow companies in the U.S. to temporarily employ foreign workers in certain jobs ― to hire public relations, marketing and operations staff at salaries from $41,370 to $45,000. In a March Republican Party presidential primary debate, Donald Trump said that he used H-1B visas in his businesses, but that the practice was bad for American workers and “we should end it.”

Ivanka Trump’s jewelry business also applied for a green card for a public relations analyst in April 2015. Federal records list the salary as $54,642 and the employee’s place of birth as Mexico. Enigma, a data intelligence company, flagged the visa applications for HuffPost.

Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club and Jupiter, Florida, golf course applied for 78 temporary visas to hire cooks, waiters and housekeepers under another visa program, H2-B, that allows businesses to hire low-skilled workers, BuzzFeed reported in July. Trump said he needed to hire foreign workers because “it’s very, very hard to get people in Palm Beach during the Palm Beach season.” (A state-chartered career services center told BuzzFeed it has hundreds of people qualified for the jobs.)

The H1-B visa program is usually portrayed as helping bring in highly skilled workers in the science and technology fields to work at companies like Google and Facebook. But the law actually allows for the visas to be used for any job that requires a bachelor’s degree, immigration lawyer Peter Roberts told The Huffington Post.

Companies are required to pay the workers they hire with H-1B visas the prevailing wage for a specific position or the salary they pay a current employee doing the same job, depending on which is higher. The prevailing wage is calculated using a national database.

While Ivanka Trump’s use of the H-1B program appears to meet this requirement, it is at odds with her father’s complaints about the decline of good-paying American jobs and his harsh rhetoric against immigrants. Trump’s immigration policy says that “immigration reform” is often code for “cheap labor,” and notes that H-1B visas undercut American wages. 

If elected, Trump would want to raise the prevailing wage companies are allowed to pay H-1B visa workers, and require companies to try to hire Americans before applying for visas for foreign workers.

In 2015, the number of applications for H-1B visas hit a record 233,000. Only 85,000 are granted through a lottery process. Published federal records list businesses’ visa applications, but not whether the application was given final approval or if the employee was hired.

Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry did not respond to requests for comment.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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