Trump says it was contractor who hired undocumented workers for 1980s project

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Responding to claims from Sen. Marco Rubio that Donald Trump’s tough talk about illegal immigration is hypocritical because the mogul himself has used unauthorized laborers, the billionaire said on Sunday that he did not directly hire the workers.

Trump said in an interview on Fox News that he had hired a contractor around the 1980s. The contractor then hired Polish workers to tear down buildings in Manhattan so that the real estate mogul could build Trump Tower.

“I hired a contractor for demolition,” Trump said in the interview with Chris Wallace. “He had Polish workers for his force; that’s all it was. And by the way, the laws were totally different.”

The contractor used union workers typically, according to the Christian Science Monitor, but hired some 200 undocumented Polish workers to meet Trump’s tightened deadlines.

Union workers filed a lawsuit over the use of the undocumented workers in 1983, saying it had undermined them. Trump settled the lawsuit years later.

In TV interviews, Rubio continued to depict Trump as insincere about illegal immigration.

“Donald Trump has portrayed himself now consistently as fighting for the working people,” Rubio said in a CBS interview on Friday. “And he has a record of sticking it to working people for 35 years.”

Rubio himself has been under attack from GOP rivals for having been part of the so-called Gang of Eight – four Democrats and four Republicans in the U.S. Senate who drafted a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013. The bill, which passed in the Senate but stalled in the House, called for tightening border security but also for giving a path to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants.

Rubio's critics say he backed amnesty. Rubio has argued that it was not amnesty because immigrants had to meet a strict set of criteria to be eligible to apply for legal status.

Trump has said that immigration laws were more lax in the 1980s, and that the use of undocumented laborers was common. He also long has maintained that he did not know what their immigration status was.

Last summer the Washington Post reported that a Trump project in which the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington D.C. was to be transformed into a hotel also depended on some undocumented labor.

Several media outlets, including Reuters and the New York Times, have reported that Trump has relied heavily on foreign workers for his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump reportedly has sought 500 foreign worker visas for labor for the project, for which 300 Americans have applied, with only 17 being hired, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

On Monday, the Rubio campaign continued hammering away at Trump, challenging him to use American workers to make clothing in his line, and to pledge to stop having them made in China.

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