WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said in an interview that aired Sunday that he has concerns about a verification system that checks whether someone can work in the United States legally — a tool that his namesake business began using companywide earlier this year.
In an interview with Fox News Channel, conducted last week, Trump said a new White House plan to overhaul portions of the legal immigration system could “possibly” include the use of E-Verify. But he also said the verification system could be overly onerous on certain employers, such as farmers, who Trump said were “not equipped” to use it.
“I used it when I built the hotel down the road on Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said, referring to the Trump International Hotel in Washington. “I use a very strong E-Verify system. And we would go through 28 people — 29, 30 people — before we found one that qualified.”
He continued: “So it’s a very tough thing to ask a farmer to go through that. So in a certain way, I speak against myself, but you also have to have a world of some practicality.”
The president’s comments about E-Verify draw attention back to the hiring practices of the Trump Organization, which has employed immigrants as waiters, groundskeepers and housekeepers who don’t have legal status, even as Trump made battling undocumented immigration a signature issue.
Trump’s company used E-Verify, he said during his presidential campaign, and he called for it to be made mandatory.
“I have hired tens of thousands of employees, many Hispanic, over the years. Many, many. They’re fantastic,” Trump said during a campaign rally in 2015. “But I have — and I think, to me, it’s very important — E-Verify.”
But the Trump Organization did not begin using the system at all of its properties until January, after The Washington Post reported that about a dozen undocumented workers from Latin America had been employed at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York. They were abruptly fired that month.
“We are instituting E-Verify on all of our properties as soon as possible,” Trump’s son Eric Trump, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said at the time. “We’re starting with the golf properties, and we are going to be doing all of them.”
The president’s resistance to E-Verify is also likely to further disappoint advocates of immigration restrictions, who were already displeased when the White House introduced an immigration plan that would not reduce the overall number of green cards issued per year.