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 TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat 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 ColemanDemocrats seize on viral Sharpie hashtags to mock Trump map edit Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (N.J.) and Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezHouse Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech 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 HorsfordThe Hill's Campaign Report: Pressure builds for Democrats who missed third debate cut Key endorsements: A who's who in early states T.I., Charlamagne Tha God advocate for opportunity zones on Capitol Hill MORE (Nev.), Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Ocasio-Cortez endorses Markey in Senate race amid speculation over Kennedy candidacy The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown MORE III (Mass.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiSwing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment MORE (N.J.) and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezAs NFIP reauthorization deadline looms, Congress must end lethal subsidies Senate Democrats warn Trump: Don't invite Putin to G-7 Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid MORE (N.J.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerWorking Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 Five top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum MORE (N.J.).

Staff members for Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system Hillicon Valley: Uber vows to defy California labor bill | Facebook, Google, Twitter to testify on mass shootings | Facebook's Libra to pursue Swiss payments license 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 TrumpWaPo gives Eric Trump 4 Pinocchios after ObamaCare website claim Pompeo jokes about speaking at Trump hotel: 'The guy who owns it' is 'going to be successful' Washington Post journalist explains why email criticized by Eric Trump is normal protocol 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 - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Melania Trump to attend reopening of Washington Monument Former speechwriter says Michelle Obama came up with 'when they go low we go high' line 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.