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 Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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.


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.


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 ColemanOvernight Energy: Interior chief says climate response falls on Congress | Bernhardt insists officials will complete offshore drilling plans | Judge rules EPA must enforce Obama landfill pollution rules Trump Interior chief says climate change response falls on Congress Interior chief says offshore drilling plan not 'indefinitely sidelined' MORE (N.J.) and Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezLawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech Amazon shareholders vote down limits on facial recognition software WHIP LIST: The 78 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry 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 HorsfordKey endorsements: A who's who in early states T.I., Charlamagne Tha God advocate for opportunity zones on Capitol Hill Dems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers 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) MalinowskiUS must do more if justice is to prevail for slain journalist Progressives seize on impeachment in 2020 primaries Cracks form in Democratic dam against impeachment MORE (N.J.) and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate to vote on blocking Trump's Saudi arms deal as soon as this week There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties MORE (N.J.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker calls for hearings on reports of ICE using solitary confinement Poll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place The Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation high ahead of first debate MORE (N.J.).

Staff members for Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump goes after Democrats over photo of drowned migrants Schumer displays photo of drowned migrants on Senate floor in appeal to Trump McConnell-backed Super PAC says nominating Roy Moore would be 'gift wrapping' seat to Dems MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHouse panel to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency project Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law Facebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics 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 TrumpEric Trump says he was spit on by employee at high-end Chicago bar Democrats seek to ban federal spending at Trump businesses The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race 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 TrumpMika Brzezinski to Ivanka and Melania: 'You will go down in history as having done nothing about' conditions for migrant children The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? In Arizona, Trump's new press secretary battled reporters 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.