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 TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit 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 ColemanLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Biden administration criticized over report that it is not extending home confinement for prisoners Group launches first national ad campaign to celebrate America's 250th anniversary MORE (N.J.) and Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezDemocrats face daunting hurdles despite promising start Black Eyed Peas' Taboo to appear in tribal 'pandemic town hall' Cutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis 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 HorsfordWorkers and seniors deserve investments in home care infrastructure Biden unveils plan for racial equity at Tulsa Race Massacre centennial Tulsa marks race massacre centennial as US grapples with racial injustice MORE (Nev.), Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedySupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote MORE III (Mass.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiHouse lawmakers push for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Kean Jr. to run against Malinowski: report The tool we need to expand COVID-19 vaccinations world-wide MORE (N.J.) and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE (N.J.) and Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Congress can make progress on fighting emissions with Zero Food Waste Act MORE (N.J.).

Staff members for Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe 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 TrumpTrump to Pence on Jan. 6: 'You don't have the courage' Florida city bans gambling amid prospects of Trump-owned casino Lara Trump on Senate bid: 'No for now, not no forever' 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 TrumpOnly Trump can fix vaccine hesitancy among his supporters Trump discussed pardoning Ghislaine Maxwell: book Jill Biden appears on Vogue cover 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.