Trump workers were not legal
Ex-staffer says the golf club management kept her off the Secret Service radar
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.
Several women say that they worked at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., without legal immigration status.