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 TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ColemanBaseball legend Frank Robinson, first black manager in MLB, dies at 83 Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents Dem lawmaker to bring former Trump property undocumented worker to State of the Union MORE (N.J.) and Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezDem lawmakers call for FBI probe into Trump golf clubs' hiring of undocumented immigrants Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents Dem lawmaker to bring former Trump property undocumented worker to State of the Union 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 KennedyJoe Kennedy introduces resolution rejecting Trump’s transgender military ban Warren launches White House bid with call for 'structural change' Joe Kennedy to endorse Warren during campaign announcement MORE III (Mass.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiDem lawmakers call for FBI probe into Trump golf clubs' hiring of undocumented immigrants Dems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers Bipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals MORE (N.J.) and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (N.J.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHarris, Booker call for judgement on Jussie Smollett case to be withheld until investigation is completed Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Jussie Smollett case shows media villainizing Trump and his supporters, without proof — again MORE (N.J.).

Staff members for Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSmaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive Democrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats 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 TrumpMandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Trump Organization drops plans to open new hotels amid scrutiny: report Schultz won't say if he will sell all Starbucks shares if he becomes president 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 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration Trump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight 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.