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As Cohen Testifies, A Reminder of the Ongoing Trump Organization Criminal Enterprise of Importing and Exploiting Undocumented Workers

 

As Michael Cohen testifies today and lawmakers focus on the Trump family criminality, the ongoing Trump Organization multi-state criminal enterprise that involves the hiring, manipulation, abuse and exploitation of undocumented workers should be addressed. It is a crime occurring right before our eyes and as Mr. Cohen speaks to Congress.

Below, we excerpt some of the top coverage of the crimes and an overview of the potential violations of criminal and civil statutes:

New York Times’ Miriam Jordan: “Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers:”

During more than five years as a housekeeper at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Victorina Morales has made Donald J. Trump’s bed, cleaned his toilet and dusted his crystal golf trophies. When he visited as president, she was directed to wear a pin in the shape of the American flag adorned with a Secret Service logo.

…According to her account, when she arrived for her interview, the housekeeping supervisor showed her around and asked her to demonstrate how she cleaned. The supervisor asked her to report to work the next morning at 6 a.m. — with her documents.

Ms. Morales said she told her she had no legal working documents. “I told her I don’t have good papers. She told me to bring what I used at the hotel,” Ms. Morales recalled.

Washington Post’s Joshua Partlow, Nick Miroff, and David A. Fahrenthold: “‘My whole town practically lived there’: From Costa Rica to New Jersey, a pipeline of illegal workers for Trump goes back years:”

Soon after Trump broke ground at Bedminster in 2002 with a golden shovel, this village emerged as a wellspring of low-paid labor for the private club, which charges tens of thousands of dollars to join. Over the years, dozens of workers from Costa Rica went north to fill jobs as groundskeepers, housekeepers and dishwashers at Bedminster, former employees said. The club hired others from El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala who spoke to The Post. Many ended up in the blue-collar borough of Bound Brook, N.J., piling into vans before dawn to head to the course each morning.

Their descriptions of Bedminster’s long reliance on illegal workers are bolstered by a newly obtained police report showing that the club’s head of security was told in 2011 about an employee suspected of using false identification papers — the first known documentation of a warning to the Trump Organization about the legal status of a worker.

Other supervisors received similar flags over the years. A worker from Ecuador said she told Bedminster’s general manager several years ago that she entered the country illegally.

…Over the years, the network from Costa Rica to Bedminster expanded as workers recruited friends and relatives, some flying to the United States on tourist visas and others paying smugglers thousands of dollars to help them cross the U.S.-Mexico border, former employees said. New hires needed little more than a crudely printed phony green card and a fake Social Security number to land a job, they said.

Washington Post’s Joshua Partlow, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig: “Former Trump club employee says management kept her off Secret Service screening list because she is undocumented:”

A former kitchen employee at one of President Trump’s golf clubs in New Jersey said her superiors kept her name and those of other undocumented workers off a list of people to be vetted by the Secret Service before a Trump visit to the club in 2016.

Emma Torres, 43, an immigrant from Ecuador, said that she informed a human resources official at the club that she did not have papers to live legally in the United States when she was asked to submit her information for a clearance check. She said the names of undocumented workers were then excised from a list turned over to the Secret Service.

Daily Beast: “New Jersey Attorney General Investigating Trump Golf Course: Report:”

The New Jersey attorney general’s office is looking into claims of “harassment and immigration fraud” at President Trump’s Bedminster golf course, a lawyer for undocumented current and former employees told the New York Daily News. Anibal Romero, lawyer for housekeeper Victorina Morales, told the newspaper the attorney general’s office “reached out to him” regarding claims that five of his clients were “threatened and called racial slurs” while working at Bedminster. His clients also allege that fraudulent documents, like work permits, were provided by the Bedminster staff, and that staff “threatened to report them to federal authorities if they spoke out.”

One of Romero’s new clients, Gilberta Dominguez, reportedly claims she was subjected to “racial slurs, threats and was set up with fraudulent papers” while employed by Bedminster. “These are elements of federal crimes and it’s important that the state attorney general’s office or federal authorities investigate this case,” Romero told the newspaper. “It is unacceptable that employees of the Trump National Golf Club have to endure this type of abuse.” Romero also claimed he has been in touch with federal authorities at “the highest level,” but did not specify which agencies he has been in touch with. A spokeswoman for the New Jersey AG’s office did not confirm whether a probe has been opened.

Potential Violations of Criminal and Civil Statutes:

​The allegations include procurement of false documents and allegations of mistreatment that included physical abuse. This brings the number of immigrants alleging illegal employment practices at more than 20, raising serious questions of criminal activity and prohibited employment practices at the Trump Golf Club in Westchester County N.Y. and Bedminster, New Jersey. Anibal Romero, who represents over 15 former Trump Golf Club workers, has called for “thorough federal and state investigations into the alleged criminal and civil violations of law.”

  • Trafficking: Under federal law, a person who transports, harbors, or conspires to transport or harbor undocumented individuals for commercial gain may be imprisoned for up to 10 years. 8 U.S.C. 1324. Even without commercial gain, the penalty is up to five years in prison. 8 U.S.C. 1324                                                                                    
  • Conspiracy: In addition to civil penalties (8 U.S.C. 1324A), employers who knowingly hire 10 or undocumented individuals may be subject up to 5 years in prison. 8 U.S.C.  
  • Conspiracy, Part Two: Those with a pattern and practice of hiring undocumented workers may be subject to civil money penalties and up to 6 months in prison. 8 U.S.C. 1324A
  • Procuring False Documents: Document fraud also carries serious penalties, both civil (8 U.S.C. 1324C) and criminal (18 U.S.C. 1546). Those who conceal the forgery of documents for immigration benefits could be imprisoned up to 5 years (8 U.S.C. 1324C).
  • Forced and Coerced Labor: Forced Labor (8 U.S.C. 1589): There is up to a 20 year prison sentence for people who employ a person by means of:
    • force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person​ or another ​person​;
    • serious harm​ or threats of ​serious harm​ to that person or another person;
    • the ​abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process​; or
    • any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the ​person​ to believe that, if that person​ did not perform such labor or services, that ​person o​r another ​person would suffer ​serious harm​ or physical restraint
  • Knowing Disregard: If a person knew or knowingly disregarded the fact that their business engaged in forced labor and financially or otherwise benefited from it, they could be subject to up to 20 years in prison. 8 U.S.C. 1589                        
  • Permanent Under Class: Allegations of disparate treatment in pay and benefits also raise serious civil and criminal tax issues.