Americans Get Ski Resort Jobs Amid Donald Trump’s Visa Curbs

Race crew course worker Guy Bien of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., fixes a safety fence on the downhill course at Mammoth Ski Resort for the U.S. Alpine National Ski Championships Wednesday, March 30, 2005, for the first day of the downhill training run after Tuesdays cancellation due to high winds and …
AP Photo/Nathan Bilow

Americans are applying for the ski resort jobs opened up by President Donald Trump’s June 22 curbs on J-1 visa workers.

Caleb Sample, the hiring manager for a SkiCo in Aspen, Colo, told 9News.com that “with the pipeline of foreign workers shut off, Skico is seeing more applications from American college students.”

“A lot of folks that were looking to defer a year, potentially they’ve just graduated,” Sample said. “Maybe they’re actually taking online classes and they can do both. They can work in Aspen and go to college still.”

Local employers prefer to hire the foreign seasonal workers — many of whom are upper-middle-class — instead of local youths.

American “people are not going to uproot themselves and move from Virginia to take a job at Snowmass for five months and grapple with moving and trying to find housing.” said Dave Byrd, director of risk and regulatory affairs for the National Ski Areas Association. “But young foreigners, driven by a desire to travel and learn how American businesses work, will do exactly that, Byrd said,” according to the October 3 9News article.

The claim was backup by a comment from a Roger Campos, a Costa Rican citizen who used the J-1 visa to work at the resort for two years. “You take the bus and you feel all the energy of happy people who are having their dreams come true … In the work environment, they will lose young people who really want to work every day,” he told 9News.com.

Trump’s curbs on the J-1 program, however, have been temporarily blocked by a California court. The judge suggested October 1 that Trump had failed to justify his claim that canceling the visas would help Americans get jobs, and he ordered federal officials to reopen the J-1 pipeline and to reopen as well the pipelines for H-1B and L-1 workers:

… there is nothing proffered in the record that any such reviews were made by the Secretaries of Labor or Homeland Security, and no reports of any sort that a specific determination was made that nonimmigrant visa applicants had any deleterious effect on the United States economy or American citizens’ employment rates.

The federal government is expected to appeal the judgment.

In August, Breitbart News cited reports that the ski resorts are reluctantly filling their jobs with young Americans instead of the J-1 and H-2B visa workers, which were blocked by Trump. For example, the Colorado Sun reported:

“Trying to fill positions without an international pool of applicants is a little concerning, but we think we can replace them domestically,” said Jim Laing, the head of human resources for Aspen Skiing Co., which typically hires about 400 J-1 exchange visa workers every season. “Our applications from college kids are up pretty significantly over prior years. We are targeting college-age applicants, but they seem to be targeting us as well. That’s a bright light in this mess.”

“We have already ramped up winter season recruiting efforts and have been pleased with the results so far,” said Vail Resorts spokesman Ryan Huff. “We have found interest among students who have more flexibility now due to online learning or deferring college attendance for a year. And our employees from prior seasons are also showing enthusiasm to return.”

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