Trump work­ers were not le­gal

Ex-staffer says the golf club man­age­ment kept her off the Se­cret Ser­vice radar

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Joshua Part­low, Tom Ham­burger and Carol D. Leon­nig

Sev­eral women say they worked at the Trump Na­tional Golf Club with­out le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

A for­mer kitchen em­ployee at one of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s golf clubs in New Jer­sey said her su­pe­ri­ors kept her name and those of other un­doc­u­mented work­ers off a list of peo­ple to be vet­ted by the Se­cret Ser­vice be­fore a Trump visit to the club in 2016.

Emma Tor­res, 43, an im­mi­grant from Ecuador, said she in­formed a hu­man re­sources of­fi­cial at the club that she did not have pa­pers to live legally in the United States when she was asked to sub­mit her in­for­ma­tion for a clear­ance check. She said the names of un­doc­u­mented work­ers were then ex­cised from a list turned over to the Se­cret Ser­vice.

Tor­res could not re­call the name of the per­son who mod­i­fied the list or the ex­act date of the in­ci­dent.

But she said she con­tin­ued in her job at the club and was later work­ing in the kitchen when Trump vis­ited the club un­der Se­cret Ser­vice pro­tec­tion.

Tor­res’ ac­count, first re­ported by The New York Times, sug­gests that the pres­ence of un­doc­u­mented work­ers at Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Bed­min­ster, N.J., was known by at least some man­agers. Last month, sev­eral women went pub­lic to say that they worked at the club with­out le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fi­cials and White House of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment.

The pres­ence of un­doc­u­mented work­ers at one of the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture golf clubs stands in sharp jux­ta­po­si­tion to his rhetoric against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Since launch­ing his White House bid, Trump has vowed to build a bor­der wall with Mex­ico to keep out mi­grants, ac­cus­ing them of bring­ing drugs and crime into the coun­try. His de­mand for more than $5 bil­lion to build the wall has led to the on­go­ing par­tial shut­down of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Trump touted his com­pany’s hir­ing prac­tices. In fall 2016, when he opened a new Trump ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton, he told the as­sem­bled au­di­ence: “We didn’t have one il­le­gal im­mi­grant on the job. Ev­ery­body knows it.”

Ani­bal Romero, a Ne­wark-based im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney, said he now rep­re­sents five im­mi­grants who say they had worked at Trump’s Bed­min­ster club with­out le­gal sta­tus in re­cent years.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors with the FBI and the New Jer­sey at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice have col­lected em­ploy­ment doc­u­ments on his clients in re­cent months, he said, an in­di­ca­tion that the agen­cies may be scru­ti­niz­ing the hir­ing prac­tices of the pres­i­dent’s club.

Tor­res’ ex­pe­ri­ence and that of an­other worker sug­gest that the Se­cret Ser­vice may not have had a full pic­ture of who was in prox­im­ity to Trump and his guests when they vis­ited the Bed­min­ster club.

Vic­to­rina Mo­rales, 45, an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant from Gu­atemala who said she worked as a house­keeper in a dif­fer­ent part of the club, clean­ing Trump’s villa, said Se­cret Ser­vice agents gave her a pin to wear ev­ery time Trump vis­ited.

“I had to wear the pin to get into the golf club,” Mo­rales said in an in­ter­view Thurs­day. Mo­rales said she re­calls one pin hav­ing an Amer­i­can flag and an­other with a de­sign that she did not re­call.

Se­cret Ser­vice spokes­woman Cather­ine Mil­hoan said a Se­cret Ser­vice pin bear­ing the U.S. flag is a nov­elty item and “is not used by the Se­cret Ser­vice as a means of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, ver­i­fi­ca­tion or ac­cess con­trol.”

She de­clined to dis­cuss what kind of pins agents may have pro­vided Mo­rales.

Of­fi­cial pins in­di­cat­ing that some­one has per­mis­sion to en­ter se­cure ar­eas have other de­signs; they are pro­vided to venue staffers by the Se­cret Ser­vice only af­ter a back­ground check, ac­cord­ing to for­mer of­fi­cials.

It is un­clear whether Mo­rales re­ceived such a screen­ing. She said she did not re­call be­ing asked to sub­mit her in­for­ma­tion in ad­vance but said she as­sumed her su­per­vi­sor pro­vided it.

Mil­hoan said the agency “does not com­ment on our pro­tec­tive op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of our name-check pro­gram.” She de­clined to say

whether of­fi­cials ever screened Mo­rales or Tor­res for a Trump visit to the Bed­min­ster club.

The rev­e­la­tions about un­doc­u­mented work­ers at Bed­min­ster sur­faced pub­licly last month, when Mo­rales and San­dra Diaz, a 46-year-old Costa Ri­can na­tive, said they were hired by the New Jer­sey club de­spite their lack of le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

Mo­rales said Thurs­day that she told a Bed­min­ster su­per­vi­sor when she ap­plied for the house­keep­ing job in 2013 that she did not have proper im­mi­gra­tion pa­pers to work legally in the United States. She re­called be­ing told: “It’s no prob­lem here. You don’t need pa­pers.”

“They knew I didn’t have good pa­pers,” said Mo­rales, who worked at the club un­til last month. Romero, her at­tor­ney, pro­vided The Wash­ing­ton Post with pay­roll and tax doc­u­ments from re­cent years that list her em­ploy­ment at the Bed­min­ster golf course.

Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly de­clined to ad­dress the spe­cific al­le­ga­tions by the work­ers.

Last month, spokes­woman Amanda Miller said in a state­ment: “We have tens of thou­sands of em­ploy­ees across our prop­er­ties and have very strict hir­ing prac­tices. If any em­ployee sub­mit­ted false doc­u­men­ta­tion in an at­tempt to cir­cum­vent the law, they will be ter­mi­nated im­me­di­ately.”

A per­son close to the or­ga­ni­za­tion said an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion of claims made by for­mer work­ers at Bed­min­ster pro­duced no cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion to sup­port a range of al­le­ga­tions they made, in­clud­ing that man­agers were aware of em­ploy­ees with­out le­gal sta­tus.

Tor­res said she be­gan work­ing at the club in early 2015, do­ing house­keep­ing, then she moved to the kitchen staff, first as a dish­washer and later in food prepa­ra­tion, earn­ing $14.50 per hour. She said she got

the job with a fake So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber.

Mo­rales said she worked with Tor­res in house­keep­ing and said she re­called her trans­fer­ring to the kitchen staff.

Trump vis­ited Bed­min­ster at least six times dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to news cov­er­age of his travel. Around the time he be­came the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, Tor­res said, se­cu­rity got tighter at the golf club, par­tic­u­larly when he was vis­it­ing.

Tor­res said she was later work­ing at the club on oc­ca­sions when Trump vis­ited.

At times, Se­cret Ser­vice agents who ac­com­pa­nied him were His­panic, Tor­res said, and the kitchen staffers would chat with them in Span­ish.

Tor­res said she left her job in Bed­min­ster in 2017 be­cause she felt un­com­fort­able as a woman in a mostly male kitchen.

She also said she did not like Trump’s com­ments about im­mi­grants.

JABIN BOTS­FORD/WASH­ING­TON POST

Sev­eral women say that they worked at Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Bed­min­ster, N.J., with­out le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

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