Just five of the 565 companies in President Trump’s business empire are signed up to use E-Verify, the government’s best tool to weed illegal immigrants out of the workforce, according to a Washington Times analysis that suggests the president could personally be doing more on that front.
Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Charlotte, Los Angeles and Miami, his hotel in Washington, D.C., and a hotel he operated in New York are signed up.
But his marquee Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida is not signed up, nor are his golf courses in Virginia, Philadelphia or Bedminster, New Jersey — where, The New York Times reported Thursday, some illegal immigrants have been working for years.
One of them, Victorina Morales, a Guatemalan woman who jumped the border in 1999, has been at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster for more than five years, making Mr. Trump’s bed, cleaning his toilet and dusting his golf trophies, the newspaper reported.
“I never imagined, as an immigrant from the countryside in Guatemala, that I would see such important people close up,” she said, in Spanish — though she also complained to the paper about Mr. Trump’s “abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money.”
Ms. Morales did fill out some immigration-related employment documents for the Trump golf club, but those were likely I-9 forms, which illegal immigrants regularly fill out using fake identities and Social Security numbers — and are rarely caught.
The newspaper said she bought counterfeit documents in New Jersey that she gave to the golf club, though she said her employers appeared to know her illegal status, particularly after they changed her duties once Mr. Trump started running for president.
Experts said Mr. Trump’s companies could have avoided the embarrassment if they’d signed up for E-Verify, the federal government’s online portal that does a thorough check of new hires, querying Social Security and Homeland Security information to make sure someone is eligible for work.
“Any person who runs for any elected office should immediately sign up for E-Verify for any employee situation they have, whether they’re running their own businesses, whether they’re hiring labor at home, whatever it is, just as a matter of pure common sense,” said Rosemary Jenks, government relations manager for NumbersUSA, which has long called for E-Verify to be made mandatory for all businesses.
That’s also a position Mr. Trump took on the campaign trail — making his own companies’ lack of use all the more striking.
The White House declined to comment on whether Mr. Trump still supports E-Verify, instead directing questions to the Trump Organization, the umbrella group for the 565 companies he listed as having a stake in on his May 2018 financial disclosure.
“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,” a Trump Organization spokesperson said in a statement.
The organization did not address questions about why so few of its companies use E-Verify.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that runs E-Verify, publishes a list of every company signed up. There are more than 560,000 listed nationwide.
And there’s a listing for TrumpSOHO in New York, which appears to refer to a hotel that Mr. Trump’s business empire had a stake in running, until last year. A similar company was still listed on Mr. Trump’s financial disclosure form filed in May, though news reports say his name was taken off the hotel last year.
Including TrumpSOHO, that still means just five companies, or less than 1 percent of the president’s businesses, use E-Verify.
None of the major presidential campaigns had signed up for E-Verify — even though some of them who were members of Congress did use the program for their congressional offices.
Hiring illegal immigrants is illegal, and can result in fines for each employee. A pattern of abuse could result in criminal prosecution.
Immigrant-rights advocates saw delicious irony over Mr. Trump, who complains about illegal immigration and promotes hiring of Americans, employing unauthorized workers.
And the advocates celebrated Ms. Morales and Sandra Diaz, another woman who worked for the president’s New Jersey golf course while an illegal immigrant, who also told her story to The New York Times.
“While Trump boasts about jobs and his hardline immigration policies, these brave women have put their own jobs and lives on the line to pursue justice for themselves and other exploited workers,” said Sandra Cordero, director of Families Belong Together.
She said the two women were “victims of crimes” perpetrated by Mr. Trump.
“After the family separation humanitarian crisis, the racist fear-mongering during the midterms, and the violent tear-gassing of children seeking asylum, it should come as no surprise that Trump executes his campaign of hate and division while profiting off the backs of undocumented and vulnerable workers,” she said.
The New York Times reported that an immigration lawyer for the two women came forward to have them tell their stories.
Ms. Morales remained on the Trump company’s payroll Thursday, the paper reported. Ms. Diaz, meanwhile, has since obtained a green card and legal work permission.
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