A housekeeper who has personally attended to President Donald Trump’s residence at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, for the past five years told The New York Times that she is an undocumented immigrant.
The employee, Victorina Morales, told the Times that “a number” of undocumented workers are a part of the club’s housekeeping, maintenance, and landscaping staff. Another woman, Sandra Diaz, who worked at the club while undocumented (but is now a legal resident), said “there are many people without papers.” The women claim that at least two managers at the golf club knew or know of undocumented employees and helped them avoid being discovered.
According to the Times, Morales immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala in 1999, crossing the border and moving from Los Angeles to New Jersey to be with her husband shortly thereafter, where she used a fake Social Security number and ID card to get work at a hotel. When she interviewed for a housekeeping job at the Trump National Golf Club in 2013, she confessed to not having the necessary documentation to work there legally. The supervisor, Morales said, instructed her to use the same forged documents she had used in the past.
Diaz claims this was also how she came to be an employee at the club. According to the women interviewed by the Times, this practice has continued even through Trump’s presidency.
The Times confirmed Morales’ and Diaz’s employment by examining employment records and their fake IDs:
To ascertain that she was in fact an employee of the club, The Times reviewed Ms. Morales’s pay stubs and W-2 forms, which list the golf course as her employer. She also made available her Individual Taxpayer Identification, a nine-digit number that is issued by the Internal Revenue Service to foreigners to enable them to file taxes without being permanent residents of the United States. Having a number does not confer eligibility to work.
The Times also examined the documents Ms. Morales presented as proof that she was entitled to work — a permanent resident card, or green card, and a Social Security card, both of which she said she purchased from someone in New Jersey who produced counterfeit documents for immigrants.
The Times ran Ms. Morales’s purported Social Security number through several public records databases and none produced a match, which is often an indication that the number is not valid. The number on the back of the green card that Ms. Morales has on file at the golf course does not correspond to the format of numbers used on most legitimate resident cards. For example, it includes initials that do not match those of any immigration service centers that issue the cards.
Morales’ and Diaz’s accounts of working at the Trump National Golf Club are rife with anecdotes of run-ins with Trump, including times he tipped with $100 bills and an emotional outburst because of an orange makeup stain on his collar.
But Trump’s rise to power and vociferously racist comments about immigrants has taken a toll on staff. Morales says she’s been hurt by Trump’s assertion that Latin American immigrants are violent criminals and that as Trump ascended to the presidency, her manager began making similar comments, too. From the Times:
As the months went on, she and other employees at the golf club became increasingly disturbed about Mr. Trump’s comments, which they felt demeaned immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The president’s tone seemed to embolden others to make negative comments, Ms. Morales said. The housekeeping supervisor frequently made remarks about the employees’ vulnerable legal status when critiquing their work, she said, sometimes calling them “stupid illegal immigrants” with less intelligence than a dog.
The Times reports that there is currently no evidence showing that Trump or the Trump Organization knew about Morales’ or Diaz’s immigration statuses, but said in a statement to the paper that it has “very strict hiring practices.”
But the Trump Organization has also all but promised to terminate Morales and anyone else who “submitted false documentation” for employment.
Morales is choosing to step forward anyway, at the risk of being fired and deported. According to the Times, she’s applied for asylum and is “exploring a lawsuit” for workplace abuse and discrimination.
“We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money,” Morales told the paper. “We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”
And even though she risks her livelihood by speaking out, Morales said it might be possible that even Trump himself knew she was undocumented during the entirety of her employment.
“I ask myself, is it possible that this señor thinks we have papers? He knows we don’t speak English,” Morales told the Times. “Why wouldn’t he figure it out?”