(CNN) – Renee Seymore knew the jobs at Donald Trump’s exclusive and plush Mar-a-Lago Club were seasonal, but she didn’t care. She applied to be a waitress, but admits she’d have taken anything.
“I needed that income because I was outta work, you know what I’m saying’? So I needed that. That would have helped. I don’t care. Like I told– I don’t care if they put me scrubbing’ a floor. It’s money. It’s a job,” said Seymore.
She interviewed, explained she had experience and heard nothing. She said, “No message, no email, no nothing.” And certainly no job.
It turns out Mar-a-Lago may have been looking for a different kind of applicant, with a different qualification, a foreign worker. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, nestled on the Palm Beach waterfront, appears to hire most of its workforce from overseas.
Department of Labor records show Mar-a-Lago got approved to hire 246 foreign workers, from 2013 to 2015, under a visa program. In that same period of time, the club only hired 4 U.S. citizens.
The explanation to the government, the club says it tried to hire 250 Americans. Of those, only 93 workers responded to ads, but most didn’t follow-up or come in for an interview. But that’s all self-reported by Trump’s organization, and labor officials tell CNN they have no way to verify if Trump’s claims are true.
Trump’s explanation so far, he just couldn’t find qualified Americans who would take his seasonal work. Trump said, “You can not get help during the season. The season goes from like October to over til March. It’s almost impossible to get help. And part of the reason you can’t get American people is they want full time jobs.”
Not true, says Tom Veenstra, of Palm Beach CareerSource; “Absolutely, we have hundreds of qualified candidates for jobs like these.”
Veenstra is a senior director at the Palm Beach CareerSource office, part of a state-funded program to help workers get jobs. The services are free, and he says over the last 2 years the agency has placed more than 50,000 people in jobs across Palm Beach County.
“That’s what we do here at CareerSource Palm Beach County. We help place local residents into jobs like those,” said Veenstra.
Trump has stuck by the argument he can’t get experienced, qualified Americans to take his part time seasonal jobs. And it is certainly true that some Americans don’t want those jobs, but there also may be another, more profitable explanation, says labor and immigration attorney Greg Schell.
Schell said, “The darkest part of this is that the worker is tied to this one job. He or she can’t leave. Their only choice, they have– a Hobson’s choice. They can stay with whatever the conditions are at the place they’re working in the United States or go back to third world poverty. Those are the only two choices.”
Trump says he has no choice. His luxurious waterfront seasonal club, Mar-a-Lago, must hire foreign workers because he simply cant find enough Americans willing to work.
He’ll have a hard time making that argument to a “would-be” American waitress, Renee Seymore. She said, “It’s not right. And it’s not fair. But it hurts because you have other people coming from another country trying to have jobs that i should be working. And it’s not right.”