Please Lead by Example on Immigration, Mr. President

An open letter on the Trump Organization's use of foreign workers

By Dan Cadman on December 10, 2018

Dear Mr. President:

When past news accounts have outlined the extensive use of guestworkers at various properties and facilities owned by the Trump Organization (see here and here), I — undoubtedly like many others who wholeheartedly approve of your attempts to instill rigor into our existing flabby immigration system — was unhappy.

We all recognize that use of those programs is entirely lawful, unless and until Congress reforms the legal immigration system to end employers' reliance on them, and that the Trump Organization is within its rights to do so. On the other hand, you campaigned and won the presidency because your forthright advocacy for amending a lopsided immigration system resonated with huge numbers of voters. You appeared to understand, when other politicians did not, that Americans resent what is clearly an unbalanced and unfair system.

More recently, the New York Times reported that some of the Trump Organization facilities are also employing illegal aliens with no right at all to work in the United States. This mirrors allegations made in the same newspaper going back 28 years. With the 2020 elections looming, and the public trust yours to lose, these are accusations that you cannot afford to ignore, Mr. President.

I'm guessing that you have put your holdings in the Trump Organization into a blind trust while holding the presidency, but even so, if you were to speak publicly as president about what you wish the organization to do, I'm sure it would carry weight. May I be so bold as to offer a couple of suggestions?

First, state that you hope to see the organization wean itself of guestworkers. Say forthrightly that you don't believe that American employers, including the Trump Organization, need guestworker programs to thrive and prosper; that you will be happy to see these jobs announced with wages and benefits adequate enough to attract, and provide a decent living to, citizens and lawful resident aliens alike. Saying this publicly will put you firmly behind legislative efforts to change our legal immigration system in ways that continue to help American workers every bit as much as the booming economy and shrinking unemployment numbers have.

Second, announce that you would like to see the organization hire an independent firm with expertise to go through the personnel records of all employees and ensure that employment eligibility forms I-9 have been prepared completely and in accordance with the law. If there are anomalies, each and every one of these employees should be summoned and given adequate opportunity to amend the anomalies, and told that this is being done preparatory to inviting an audit by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Third, encourage each and every separate hiring site within the entire Trump Organization to immediately enroll in E-Verify. This program may not be a cure-all, but it will go a long way toward ensuring that the Trump Organization avails itself of every resource at its command to comply with both the letter and spirit of U.S. immigration and employment authorization laws. It also sets a standard that other employers may wish to follow, which is all to the good. In fact, you could go further and advocate in favor of a system of mandatory E-Verify for every employer in the United States. Letting lawmakers know you stand behind an automated universal verification system sends an important signal for future legislative efforts to amend immigration law in the right direction.

Thank you, Mr. President, for taking the time to consider these modest proposals. I wish you and your entire administration well.


Dan Cadman