Housekeeper at Trump’s New Jersey golf club tells newspaper she is undocumented
A woman working as a housekeeper at President Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J. — trusted to make Trump’s bed and iron the president’s clothes — revealed that 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 with a machete. 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, Fla., 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.
“We will ensure that E-Verify is used to the fullest extent possible under existing law, and we will work with Congress to strengthen and expand its use across the country,” he declared in a 2016 speech in Arizona.
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.
His silence on the issue has, to the dismay of some conservatives, drained momentum from one of their top policy goals.
“The president has been half-serious about stopping illegal immigration by not taking away the jobs magnet,” said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group pushing to reduce immigration. Beck said Trump has “let us down in his promise to help American workers” because he hasn’t “put his shoulder behind a mandatory E-Verify bill.”
According to the New York Times, Morales said managers at Trump’s club had taken steps to help her evade detection as an undocumented worker.
Another club staffer drove her to work, the paper reported, because she could not legally obtain a driver’s license. And after a problem was discovered with her old phony documents, the Times reported that a club supervisor directed her to an employee who helped her obtain new phony ones.
The Times story was posted online Thursday afternoon. Marc Lacey, the paper’s national editor, wrote on Twitter that Morales had been notified a day earlier that the story would be posted and that she did not go to work Thursday at Bedminster.
Miroff, Jan and Fahrenthold write for the Washington Post.
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