Dems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers

Dems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers

Democrats are warning the administration to tread carefully in its treatment of the immigrants without legal status who are alleging workplace abuses at President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE’s golf courses.

The former employees who have come forward recently toured Democratic offices on Capitol Hill, received calls of support and even invitations to next week's State of the Union address.

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That, in turn, has drawn attention to their illegal status in the United States, raising concerns of possible deportation.

"All of them, I consider, are material witnesses to a federal crime. And any attempt to remove them from the U.S. could possibly be obstruction of justice," said Anibal Romero, the attorney for 20 of the former golf course workers.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on any deportation plans.

Romero is seeking help from congressional Democrats, as well as federal authorities in New York and New Jersey, to investigate the Trump Organization, which he calls "a criminal enterprise."

His clients previously worked at Trump’s golf clubs in Westchester, N.Y., and Bedminster, N.J.

Margarita Cruz, Sandra Díaz, Victorina Morales and Gabriel Sedano — workers who say they were employed by the Trump Organization while they did not have legal status — talked to Democratic lawmakers in Capitol Hill offices this week, asking for their support in a possible investigation.

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Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), an outspoken supporter of immigrant rights, said he would circulate a letter of support among colleagues.

"The first thing is to the FBI, to say, 'Hey man, you have to investigate … this is a violation of law — civil or criminal,’” Grijalva said. “And the second that we shouldn't forget is that Homeland Security mustn't move these people because they are material witnesses and potentially victims as well."

Reps. Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements New Jersey Dems tell Pentagon not to use military funds for border wall Nielsen testifies: Five things you need to know MORE (N.J.) and Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezOcasio-Cortez, Jimmy Gomez do pushups during House hearing break Dems press Mnuchin on Trump tax returns Cohen's charges make getting Trump's taxes even more important MORE (Calif.) invited Morales and Díaz, respectively, as their guests for Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 5.

The four workers also met with Reps. Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordDems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers Ten Dem lawmakers added to House Ways and Means Committee Nevada Democrat calls Trump’s focus on border wall ‘unfortunate and unnecessary’ MORE (Nev.), Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyOvernight Defense: Transgender troops rally as ban nears | Trump may call more troops to border | National Guard expects 3M training shortfall from border deployment | Pentagon to find housing for 5,000 migrant children Transgender troops rally as Pentagon prepares to implement ban The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump rallies for second term on 'promises kept' MORE III (Mass.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiPompeo tells Dem rep. not to make Otto Warmbier a 'political football' Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements New Jersey Dems tell Pentagon not to use military funds for border wall MORE (N.J.) and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange MORE (N.J.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerK Street support to test Buttigieg We should welcome workers' 'powerful victory' in the Stop & Shop strike Harris adds another to her list of endorsements in South Carolina MORE (N.J.).

Staff members for Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery Sherrod Brown asks Trump Fed pick why he referred to Cleveland, Cincinnati as 'armpits of America' Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Ohio) and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) also met with the group.

The lawmakers praised their willingness to come forward, risking deportation.

"When I told my supervisor that I didn’t have papers, he told me not to worry," said Morales, adding that her supervisor took her photo in a laundry room on Trump property and then lent her $175 to obtain fraudulent documents.

"His cousin, another employee, drove me to get the papers," she added.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Lara Trump to 'Fox & Friends': Trump 'one of the greatest presidents we've ever had' Eric and Lara Trump expecting their second child MORE, one of the president's two sons running day-to-day operations for the Trump Organization, said in a Washington Post article this week that the ability of workers who immigrated illegally to gain employment at his father's companies is evidence that the immigration system is broken.

"We are making a broad effort to identify any employee who has given false and fraudulent documents to unlawfully gain employment,” he said. “Where identified, any individual will be terminated immediately.”

But Morales's story, along with many others, points to a pattern of company-sponsored falsification of documents to benefit from cheap labor, according to Romero.

He said another worker, who has not come forward to the media, expressed fear that the Secret Service would discover his immigration status after Trump was elected in 2016.

After the worker raised the issue with a supervisor, the supervisor allegedly scrubbed certain workers' names from a list provided to the Secret Service for security sweeps.

The Secret Service declined to comment for this story.

The workers who met with Democratic lawmakers say the assistance in obtaining false documents often came with a price: verbal and physical abuse, and withdrawal of work benefits.

"During my five years working there, I was a trusted employee," said Morales. "I cleaned the homes of Donald and Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Trump hosts annual White House Egg Roll with record 74,000 eggs Trump plugs border wall in exchange with young Easter egg roll attendee MORE, but I was not offered health care, a 401(k) or other benefits that my documented co-workers received. How can they say they didn’t know we were undocumented?”

Romero said Morales's experience is far from unique.

"I have spoken with over 30 former employees, and they all tell a similar story: supervisors who provided them or encouraged them to procure false documents; threatened them with deportation; physically abused them; and coerced them into unfavorable jobs and situations," said Romero.

Many of the workers risk deportation for coming forward. Díaz is now a legal permanent resident.

Democrats vowed to keep up the pressure on a possible investigation into the allegations, and warned against any effort to deport them.

"Any move on them — automatically they have a strong case,” Grijalva said.