In an extraordinary display of hypocrisy, President Trump’s golf club in Briarcliff Manor, New York was found to have been employing at least a dozen undocumented immigrants while the president forced the federal government to shut down over his border wall hissy fit.
The Washington Post revealed that last Friday the Trump National Golf Club suddenly fired a group of workers found to be using false immigration documents after some had spent years working at the posh club and earning performance awards and sterling letters of recommendation.
The previously undisclosed layoffs come after a similar incident at Trump’s Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey last year when that business was also discovered to be relying on undocumented workers to staff the property and was subsequently forced to fire the illegally-hired workers.
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At the suburban Westchester County location, the Trump Organization told workers that that company had just completed an audit of their immigration documents and found them to be falsified.
“Unfortunately, this means the club must end its employment relationship with you today,” one fired worker recorded a Trump Organization executive saying.
Gabriel Sedano, a former maintenance worker from Mexico who was among those laid off last week had this to say:
“I started to cry. I told them they needed to consider us. I had worked almost 15 years for them in this club, and I’d given the best of myself to this job,” the devastated worker said.
“I’d never done anything wrong, only work and work,” he continued. “They said they didn’t have any comments to make.”
While Trump has handed off the day to day operations of his real estate empire to his two oldest sons, he still maintains ownership of the businesses. Eric Trump addressed the issue of the company’s use of undocumented employees in a statement emailed to The Washington Post.
“We are making a broad effort to identify any employee who has given false and fraudulent documents to unlawfully gain employment. Where identified, any individual will be terminated immediately.”
He continued by saying that it is one of the reasons “my father is fighting so hard for immigration reform. The system is broken.”
The younger Trump son dodged the very specific questions The Post had asked regarding the number of illegally-hired workers who had been fired at other Trump properties, whether and when the Trump Organization had done other audits of its employees’ immigration paperwork, and if executives at the company knew that they had hired workers without proper documentation.
While the federal government has an electronic system, E-Verify, that lets companies check the immigration status of prospective hires, it does not appear as if the Trump Organization participates in the system, and Eric Trump did not answer the Post’s inquiry as to whether the company would begin using it.
The fired workers said they were being scapegoated for providing cheap labor in jobs that few Americans want and that the Trump Organization benefitted from their committed work ethic and lower wages.
“They said absolutely nothing. They never said, ‘Your social security number is bad’ or ‘Something is wrong,’ ” said Margarita Cruz, a housekeeping employee from Mexico who was fired after eight years at the club. “Nothing. Nothing. Until right now.”
The Washington Post learned of the firings from Anibal Romero, an immigration attorney representing the fired workers in the Westchester Golf club as well as some of the workers from his club in Bedminster. They interviewed 16 current and former workers from the golf club who “said they were going public because they felt discarded: After working so long for Trump’s company, they said they were fired with no warning and no severance.”
Romero told the newspaper that the Trump Organization has “a pattern and practice of hiring undocumented immigrants, not only in New Jersey, but also in New York.”
“We are demanding a full and thorough investigation from federal authorities,” the attorney said.
The stories the fired workers told exposed a knowing willingness on the company’s part in ignoring obviously falsified documents. Jesus Lira, a banquet chef from Mexico, said that an accountant at the Trump club rejected his fake documents and told him to go obtain better ones at least twice in 2008.
“She said, ‘I can’t accept this, go back and tell them to do a better job,’ ” Lira said.
Lira eventually purchased documents that passed the company’s muster. A former manager at the club told The Post that the Trump Organization kept to the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“’It didn’t matter. They didn’t care [about immigration status],’ said the former manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve ties with current Trump executives. ‘It was, “Get the cheapest labor possible.”’ The former manager said the assumption at the club was that immigration authorities were not likely to target golf clubs for mass raids,” The Post reported.
While Trump may constantly rail against illegal immigration as taking jobs away from legitimate U.S. citizens, it seems he has no problem with using undocumented workers to pad his bottom line and then discarding them with no notice and no severance when they become political and legal liabilities.
You would expect no less from someone as morally destitute as Donald Trump.
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Original reporting by Joshua Partlow David A. Fahrenthold at The Washington Post.