Email #138: “Hire American”?

This week I received a “White House Memo” mass email that began:

“‘Buy American and Hire American’ is more than just a slogan, it is the cornerstone of President Donald J. Trump’s vision for a government that, for the first time in decades, answers to the American workers who built this country.”

It’s ironic then that Trump Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia is hiring foreign workers. The winery is owned by the President’s son Eric Trump, who requested 29 temporary workers through a federal visa program designed to fill jobs that employers are unable to fill with American citizens.

Why don’t Americans want to work for Trump’s son? The winery is paying $10.72 an hour. If these were year-round, 40 hours-a-week positions, each would yield an annual income of $22,298. The poverty line is $24,600.

In what sense is “Hire American” a cornerstone of an administration that answers to American workers, if one of the President’s own family businesses relies on jobs that require its workers to toil in poverty? Rather than exploiting foreign workers so desperate to reach the U.S. that they will take any job no matter how impoverishing, why doesn’t the President use his family business as a model for the worker-focused vision he claims to have?

You wrote in February: “When the American economy is thriving, there are more job opportunities, higher wages, and lower prices for consumers. I will seek to restore accountability for, and provide relief from, the excessive red tape facing our nation’s small businesses and job creators.”

Does that include the red tape facing Trump Winery when it applies for H-2A visas, a program signed into law by President Reagan? Should Trump Winery not be required to complete “the excessive red tape” of first advertising those jobs in Charlottesville area newspapers? Because opportunities for abuse of workers is so high, Trump Winery and similar H-2A agricultural employers are some of the most regulated employers in the country. Do you intend to provide “relief” from their having to provide housing, meals, and transportation? Why not strike the requirement that workers must return home after three years? Shouldn’t years of poverty wages for a job that no Americans want make someone eligible for citizenship?

Since Trump Winery is a Trump family business located in Virginia, I would think both you and the President would want to make it a beacon of GOP economic and immigrant policies. Instead it demonstrates how the government colludes with businesses to maintain below-poverty-level wages by importing desperate workers instead of raising wages to employ Americans.

This isn’t answering “to the American workers who built this country.” It’s ignoring and insulting them.



Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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