Trump busi­nesses shun E-Ver­ify sys­tem Only 5 out of 565 firms sign up for ser­vice

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN AND S.A. MILLER

Just five of the 565 com­pa­nies in Pres­i­dent Trump’s busi­ness em­pire are signed up to use E-Ver­ify, the gov­ern­ment’s best tool to weed il­le­gal im­mi­grants out of the work­force, ac­cord­ing to a Wash­ing­ton Times anal­y­sis that sug­gests the pres­i­dent could per­son­ally be do­ing more on that front.

Mr. Trump’s golf cour­ses in Los An­ge­les, Mi­ami and Char­lotte, North Carolina, his ho­tel in the Dis­trict of Columbia and a ho­tel he op­er­ated in New York are signed up.

But his mar­quee Mar-a-Lago re­sort in Florida is not signed up, nor are his golf cour­ses in Vir­ginia, Philadel­phia or Bed­min­ster, New Jersey — where, The New York Times re­ported Thurs­day, some il­le­gal im­mi­grants have been work­ing for years.

One of them, Vic­to­rina Mo­rales, a Gu­atemalan woman who jumped the border in 1999, has been at the Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Bed­min­ster for more than five years, mak­ing Mr. Trump’s bed, clean­ing his toi­let and dust­ing his golf tro­phies, the news­pa­per re­ported.

“I never imag­ined, as an im­mi­grant from the coun­try­side in Gu­atemala, that I would see such im­por­tant peo­ple close up,” she said in Span­ish — though she also com­plained to the pa­per about Mr. Trump’s “abuse, the in­sults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here help­ing him make money.”

Ms. Mo­rales did fill out some im­mi­gra­tion-re­lated em­ploy­ment doc­u­ments for the Trump golf club, but those were likely I-9 forms, which il­le­gal im­mi­grants reg­u­larly use along with fake iden­ti­ties and So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers — and are rarely caught.

The news­pa­per said she bought coun­ter­feit doc­u­ments in New Jersey that she gave to the golf club, though her em­ploy­ers ap­peared to know her il­le­gal sta­tus, par­tic­u­larly af­ter they changed her du­ties once Mr. Trump started run­ning for pres­i­dent.

An­a­lysts said Mr. Trump’s com­pa­nies could have avoided the em­bar­rass­ment if they had signed up for E-Ver­ify, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s on­line por­tal that con­ducts thor­ough checks of new hires, query­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity and Home­land Se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion to make sure some­one is el­i­gi­ble for work.

“Any per­son who runs for any elected of­fice should im­me­di­ately sign up for E-Ver­ify for any em­ployee sit­u­a­tion they have, whether they’re run­ning their own busi­nesses, whether they’re hir­ing la­bor at home, what­ever it is, just as a mat­ter of pure com­mon sense,” said Rose­mary Jenks, gov­ern­ment re­la­tions man­ager for Num­ber­sUSA, which has long called for E-Ver­ify to be made manda­tory for all busi­nesses.

That was a po­si­tion Mr. Trump took on the cam­paign trail — mak­ing his own com­pa­nies’ lack of use all the more strik­ing.

The White House de­clined to com­ment on whether Mr. Trump still sup­ports E-Ver­ify, in­stead direct­ing ques­tions to the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the um­brella group for the 565 com­pa­nies he listed as hav­ing a stake in on his May 2018 fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure.

“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 Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion spokesper­son said in a state­ment.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion did not ad­dress ques­tions about why so few of its com­pa­nies use E-Ver­ify and did not re­but The Wash­ing­ton Times’ statis­tic.

U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices, the fed­eral agency that runs E-Ver­ify, pub­lishes a list of ev­ery com­pany signed up. More than 560,000 were listed na­tion­wide as of June.

Among them were Trump prop­er­ties OPO Ho­tel Man­ager LLC, Trump Mi­ami Re­sorts Man­age­ment LLC and VH Prop­erty Corp. There are two sep­a­rate list­ings for the Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Char­lotte.

There is also a list­ing for TrumpSOHO in New York, which ap­pears to re­fer to a ho­tel that Mr. Trump’s busi­ness em­pire had a stake in run­ning un­til last year. A sim­i­lar com­pany was still listed on Mr. Trump’s fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure form filed in May, though news re­ports say his name was taken off the ho­tel last year.

In­clud­ing TrumpSOHO, that still means just five com­pa­nies, or less than 1 per­cent of the pres­i­dent’s busi­nesses, use E-Ver­ify.

The Wash­ing­ton Times first in­ves­ti­gated Mr. Trump’s com­pa­nies’ use of E-Ver­ify dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, as part of a look at pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates’ hir­ing prac­tices.

None of the ma­jor pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns had signed up for E-Ver­ify — even though some who were mem­bers of Congress did use the pro­gram for their con­gres­sional of­fices.

Hir­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants is il­le­gal and can re­sult in fines for each em­ployee. A pat­tern of abuse could re­sult in crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.

Im­mi­grant rights ad­vo­cates saw de­li­cious irony over Mr. Trump, who com­plains about il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and pro­motes hir­ing of Amer­i­cans, em­ploy­ing unau­tho­rized work­ers.

The ad­vo­cates cel­e­brated Ms. Mo­rales and San­dra Diaz, an­other woman who worked for the pres­i­dent’s New Jersey golf course while an il­le­gal im­mi­grant, who also told her story to The New York Times.

“While Trump boasts about jobs and his hard-line im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, these brave women have put their own jobs and lives on the line to pur­sue jus­tice for them­selves and other ex­ploited work­ers,” said San­dra Cordero, di­rec­tor of Fam­i­lies Be­long To­gether.

She said the two women were “vic­tims of crimes” per­pe­trated by Mr. Trump.

“Af­ter the fam­ily sep­a­ra­tion hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, the racist fear­mon­ger­ing dur­ing the midterms, and the violent tear-gassing of chil­dren seek­ing asy­lum, it should come as no sur­prise that Trump ex­e­cutes his cam­paign of hate and divi­sion while prof­it­ing off the backs of un­doc­u­mented and vul­ner­a­ble work­ers,” she said.

The New York Times re­ported that an im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney for the two women came for­ward to have them tell their sto­ries.

Ms. Mo­rales re­mained on the Trump com­pany’s pay­roll Thurs­day, the pa­per re­ported. Ms. Diaz, mean­while, has since ob­tained a green card and le­gal work per­mis­sion.

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