House­keeper at Trump golf club claims to be un­doc­u­mented

The Mercury News - - News - By Nick Miroff, Tracy Jan and David A. Fahren­thold

A woman work­ing as a house­keeper at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s golf club in Bed­min­ster, New Jersey — trusted to make Trump’s bed and iron the pres­i­dent’s clothes — re­vealed she is an unau­tho­rized im­mi­grant in an in­ter­view with The New York Times.

The woman, 45-year-old Vic­to­rina Morales, said she came to the United States from Gu­atemala and has worked at the golf club for the past five years.

In an in­ter­view Thurs­day evening with The Wash­ing­ton Post from her at­tor­ney’s of­fice, Morales said she has not been fired or heard from her em­ployer since the pub­li­ca­tion of the Times ar­ti­cle, in which she said she pre­sented phony iden­tity doc­u­ments when she was hired at Trump Na­tional Golf Club.

Morales said she was sched­uled to re­port to work Fri­day but did not plan to go, and said she made the de­ci­sion to come for­ward be­cause of mis­treat­ment by her di­rect su­per­vi­sor at the golf re­sort, in­clud­ing what she de­scribed as “phys­i­cal abuse” on three oc­ca­sions.

“I’m tired of be­ing hu­mil­i­ated and treated like a stupid per­son,” she said in Span­ish dur­ing a brief in­ter­view. “We’re just im­mi­grants who don’t have pa­pers.”

Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, the agency charged with de­tain­ing and de­port­ing im­mi­grants who lack le­gal sta­tus, did not re­spond to ques­tions ask­ing about the case.

“We have tens of thou­sands of em­ploy­ees across our prop­er­ties and have very strict hir­ing prac­tices,” Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion spokes­woman Amanda Miller wrote in an email, with­out specif­i­cally ad­dress­ing the ar­ti­cle about Morales.

“If any em­ployee sub­mit­ted false doc­u­men­ta­tion in an at­tempt to cir­cum­vent the law, they will be ter­mi­nated im­me­di­ately,” Miller said.

Ani­bal Romero, Morales’ at­tor­ney, said he planned to help Morales file an asy­lum claim af­ter her fam­ily in Gu­atemala was threat­ened and Morales’ fa­ther-in-law was hacked to death in a ma­chete at­tack. Romero said his client has not been con­tacted by U.S. im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties nor charged with any crimes in the United States.

Romero also said he is also con­sid­er­ing what he called “em­ploy­ment ac­tion” against the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion for what he said were po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of state anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws on be­half of Morales and an­other client, San­dra Diaz, who also worked at the golf club il­le­gally.

Trump built his 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign around a hard-line stance against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. He called for a wall along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, mass de­por­ta­tions of the un­doc­u­mented, and an ex­pan­sion of E-Ver­ify, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s on­line tool to check whether em­ploy­ees are legally el­i­gi­ble to work.

Dur­ing that cam­paign, Trump said his own busi­nesses al­ready used the sys­tem — which, in most states, is vol­un­tary for em­ploy­ers.

“I’m us­ing E-Ver­ify on just about ev­ery job,” Trump told MSNBC host Chris Matthews dur­ing a tele­vised town hall in March 2016, later adding, “I’m us­ing E-Ver­ify, and I’ll tell you, it works.”

On Thurs­day, a search of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s data­base of em­ploy­ers us­ing E-Ver­ify turned up some Trump prop­er­ties. His golf cour­ses in North Carolina and Do­ral, Flor­ida, use it, as well as his Mar-a-Lago re­sort and his ho­tels in Wash­ing­ton and Chicago. But a num­ber of other Trump prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing the Bed­min­ster golf club, do not ap­pear in that data­base of em­ploy­ers us­ing E-Ver­ify.

The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion did not re­spond to ques­tions ask­ing why some of its prop­er­ties do not ap­pear in the sys­tem.

Eight states re­quire nearly all em­ploy­ers to use the sys­tem: Alabama, Ari­zona, Ge­or­gia, Mis­sis­sippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ten­nessee and Utah.

While run­ning for pres­i­dent, Trump touted a na­tional E-Ver­ify man­date.

As pres­i­dent, Trump listed E-Ver­ify among his im­mi­gra­tion pri­or­i­ties and re­quested $23 mil­lion in his 2019 bud­get pro­posal to ex­pand the pro­gram for manda­tory na­tion­wide use. But in re­cent months, he has largely gone quiet on the pro­gram, pre­fer­ring to fo­cus his im­mi­gra­tion rhetoric on mi­grants at the Mex­ico bor­der.

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