FBI investigating Trump golf club for hiring undocumented workers after tip to Mueller

Lawyer representing immigrants says Trump's New Jersey club supplied fake green cards, Social Security numbers

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published January 1, 2019 6:00AM (EST)

 (AP/Patrick Semansky)
(AP/Patrick Semansky)

New Jersey investigators and the FBI have obtained fake green cards given to undocumented workers by managers at President Trump’s National Golf Club in Bedminster, an attorney for the workers told the Washington Post.

Anibal Romero, a New Jersey lawyer representing five undocumented immigrants who say they worked at the golf club, told the Post that he turned over fake green cards and Social Security numbers that supervisors at the club allegedly gave at least one of his clients to the FBI and the New Jersey state attorney general’s office. Neither the FBI or the attorney general’s office would confirm or deny the investigation, according to the New York Daily News.

Romero said he first contacted special counsel Robert Mueller in October about the employees’ allegations. The FBI called him several weeks later.

“The agent told me that he had received a referral from Robert Mueller’s office and that he had been briefed on the case and he wanted to meet with me in person,” Romero said.

Romero said Trump’s golf club didn’t just hire undocumented employees as the president ratcheted up his anti-immigrant rhetoric but that they actively “recruited” undocumented workers, such as his client Victorina Morales.

“The important point that I think has been left out is that Americans think these hard-working women get these jobs on their own — that’s not what happened,” Romero said. “People employed by the golf club recruited her and made her the phony documents.”

Morales told the Post that she decided to publicly come forward despite the risk of deportation to expose Trump’s “hypocrisy.”

Morales first publicly spoke out in an interview with the New York Times earlier this month because she said she was “tired of the abuse” from the president.

“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,” she told the Times. “We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”

Morales said she has worked at the Trump golf club for more than five years where she personally made the president’s bed and cleaned his room. She said that when she interviewed at the club she was told that “her status didn’t matter.”

Morales said she decided to go public after a supervisor at he club pushed her against a wall, called her stupid, and said she could not do anything because she was undocumented.

“I was humiliated. I just wanted to come of the shadows,” she told The Post. “I was trapped and threatened with deportation if I spoke out against my boss, who was so abusive. No one should be treated this way in the United States of America.”

Morales came forward with another worker, Sandra Diaz, who said she was undocumented when she worked at the club between 2010 and 2013 but has since become a legal resident.

“There are many people without papers” who work at the club, Diaz told the Times. Both women said that the housekeeping, maintenance and landscaping employees include many undocumented workers.

The Trump Organization did not comment on the specific allegations but spokeswoman Amanda Miller told the Times earlier this month that “we have tens of thousands of employees across our properties and have very strict hiring practices. If any employee submitted false documentation in an attempt to circumvent the law, they will be terminated immediately.”

Despite going public weeks ago, Romero says Morales is still getting paid even though she stopped going to work after the Times story.

Morales told the Times that she has a hard time believing that the president himself was unaware of the large number of undocumented workers she says work at the club.

“I ask myself, is it possible that this señor thinks we have papers? He knows we don’t speak English,” Morales said. “Why wouldn’t he figure it out?”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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