WOODLAND PARK, N.J. – A New Jersey attorney on Thursday called on state and federal officials to investigate the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, alleging that undocumented employees there were subject to abuse because of their immigration status.
The attorney, Anibal Romero of Union City, issued the call after the New York Times published a story in which two women he represents said they were hired as housekeepers at the resort after presenting bogus Social Security numbers and green cards.
President Donald Trump has made curbing illegal immigration one of his top priorities.
"While working at Donald Trump’s estate in Bedminster and interacting with the President and his immediate family, my clients and others were repeatedly subjected to abuse, called racial epithets and threatened with deportation,'' Romero said in a statement Thursday. "Ironically, the threats often came from the same supervisor who had employed them despite knowing their undocumented status and even provided them with forged documents."
A spokesman for state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal declined to comment Thursday afternoon. Grewal has challenged several of Trump's immigration policies and last week unveiled a new state directive ordering local law enforcement to limit their cooperation with federal immigration officers.
A call to the Trump National Golf Club's marketing office was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon. Neither was an email to Amanda Miller, senior vice president for marketing and corporate communications for the Trump Organization, which owns the golf course.
Miller told the Times that the Trump Organization has tens of thousands of employees across its properties, and that the company has very strict hiring practices.
“If an employee submitted false documentation in an attempt to circumvent the law, they will be terminated immediately,'' Miller told the newspaper.
Romero represents Victorina Morales, 45, an undocumented woman from Guatemala who was hired at the golf resort in 2013, and Sandra Diaz, a native of Costa Rica who is now a legal U.S. resident but who was undocumented when she worked at the golf club from 2010 to 2013. The women said they were among a group of housekeeping, maintenance and landscaping employees at the golf club that included a number of workers without legal status, according to the Times.
"These women have shown tremendous bravery in bringing forth their allegations against such a powerful family,'' Romero said in his statement. "Many of the abuses to which my clients were subjected constitute crimes."
Morales crossed the border in California illegally in 1999 and, soon after, a contact provided with her a phony Social Security number and an identification card that she was told she could use to gain employment. She later flew to New Jersey to join her husband, who had arrived a few months earlier.
In 2013, Morales was told by a friend that the resort was looking to hire housekeepers for $10 an hour, so she applied since it would have been more than the $8.25 she was being paid to clean rooms at a hotel.
After she demonstrated her cleaning skills to the housekeeping supervisor, Morales was told to report to work the next morning, she told the Times. Morales said that she told the supervisor that she had no legal working documents and that the supervisor told her to bring the same documents she had used to secure the hotel job.
Employers are required to examine identity and work documents as part of the hiring process. Some employers use E-verify, a federal database that allows American businesses to determine a prospective employee's immigration status. New Jersey is not among the 22 states that require employers to use E-verify.
When he was campaigning for the presidency, Trump said publicly that his company used E-Verify to vet applicants seeking work at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Morales said her duties at Trump National included washing and ironing Trump's clothing as well as his wife's and youngest son. A few times, she said, Trump tipped her $50 or $100 for her work.
After Trump launched his presidential campaign, a manager told Morales that she could no longer work inside Trump's house, she told the Times. Other undocumented employees also had their work hours reduced, leading many to become afraid and leave, she told the newspaper.
Months later,she was told by a manager that she needed to get a new green card and new Social Security card because there were "problems with her current one,'' she told the Times.
Morales said she borrowed $165 from a manager at the resort to pay for a new bogus Social Security number and phony green card to replace the ones she had initially submitted for the position.
After Trump was elected president, she said, the housekeeping supervisor remarked on employees' legal statuses when critiquing their work, and at times called them “stupid illegal immigrants” with less intelligence than a dog, according to the Times.
Morales told the Times that she has been hurt by the president's public statements against immigrants. She said she came forward because she had been subjected to abusive comments from her supervisor about her intelligence and her unlawful immigration status. Morales, who has applied for asylum, is exploring a lawsuit claiming workplace abuse and discrimination, The Times reported.