The Slatest

Report: Undocumented Workers at Trump Golf Club Say Employer Knew Their Immigration Status

Trump, dressed in black exercise-type clothes, waves. Five golf carts can be seen around him.
President Trump plays a round of golf at one of his properties on July 14, 2018. Andy Buchanan/Getty Images

While President Trump’s golf and hotel properties have long been known to rely on immigrant workers on guest-worker visas, The New York Times published an article on Thursday in which two undocumented immigrants confirmed they had worked for years at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club and that management at the club was aware of their status.

The two women, Victorina Morales, 45, and Sandra Diaz, 46, told the Times that they had worked for the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster for five and three years, respectively. They met the president a number of times in the course of their work, which often put them in close proximity to his world: cleaning his villa, scrubbing his toilet, washing and ironing his clothes. They did not know if Trump knew about undocumented workers at his properties.

Morales, an immigrant from Guatemala who was still employed by the club at the time of publication, said she was aware she would likely be fired and possibly deported but that she could no longer stay silent because she believed his public statements emboldened anti-immigrant abuse and painted hard-working immigrants as hardened criminals.

“We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money,” she told the Times. “We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”

The two women had presented the golf club with false personal documents and said they believed most people who worked there were aware of the presence of undocumented workers. Morales said an employee drove her and the others who could not get driver’s licenses because of their lack of documentation. She also said that last year one of the managers helped her secure new forged documents.

Trump made his hard-line immigration positions a central part of his campaign, and he continues to rally his base by crying out against what he sees as a scourge of “illegals” taking American jobs. In 2017, he signed an executive order tightening the conditions for visas for foreign workers—like those his properties employ—and during his campaign, he called for an expansion of the E-Verify program, which is already required in 22 states and which checks documents against records kept by the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security. According to the Times, Trump’s properties in those 22 states use E-Verify but not the club in Bedminster or any others outside those states. (In a statement, the Trump Organization’s senior vice president for marketing and corporate communications said any employee who submitted false documents would be fired).

Despite their anger toward the president for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, the two women appeared to like Trump as an employer and said he was highly critical but sometimes tipped generously. Diaz, who is originally from Costa Rica and who has since been issued a real Social Security card and green card, recalled one nerve-wracking instance in 2012 that seemed to exemplify how he treated the housekeepers at his properties:

[T]rump approached her and asked her to follow him to the clubhouse, a renovated 1930s Georgian manor, where he proceeded to run his fingers around the edges of frames on the wall and over table surfaces to check for dust.

“You did a really great job,” she said he told her, and handed her a $100 bill.

She also mentioned another memory of his exacting standards:

That same year, she said, Mr. Trump had an outburst over some orange stains on the collar of his white golf shirt, which Ms. Diaz described as stubborn remnants of his makeup, which she had difficulty removing.

The news is the first confirmation Trump’s businesses are currently employing undocumented workers, but it’s not the first time Trump has reportedly relied on them. In 1979 or 1980, he hired undocumented Polish workers to demolish and old building to make the way for Trump Tower in Manhattan. Trump’s modeling agency also brought in foreign models to the United States to work, despite the fact that they were in the country on tourist visas, in violation of the law.