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Following two days of Capitol Hill meetings, Victorina “Vicki” Morales, an undocumented former employee of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, legal and labor experts gathered on a press call to outline the fact pattern of criminal behavior by the Trump Organization. Those legal concerns are outlined below the quotes from today’s speakers
Victorina “Vicki” Morales, who was born in Guatemala and illegally entered the United States. She was hired by the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in 2013. During her original interview, she admitted her legal status and was subsequently provided false identification documents by her Bedminster employers, said, “When I told my supervisor that I didn’t have papers, he told me not to worry. He took my photo in the laundry room, and when I told my supervisor I couldn’t afford them, he lent me $175 for them. His cousin, another employee, drove me to get the papers. During my five years working there, I was a trusted employee. I cleaned the homes of Donald and Melania Trump, but I was not offered health care, a 401k, or other benefits that my documented co-workers received. How can they say they didn’t know we were undocumented?”
*Quote provided by Morales and translated by her attorney, Anibal Romero.
Anibal Romero, attorney for over twenty undocumented former Trump organization employees and founder of The Romero Firm, said, “Donald Trump is running a criminal enterprise. I have spoken with over thirty former employees, and they all tell a similar story: supervisors who provided them or encouraged them to procure false documents; threatened them with deportation; physically and abused them; and coerced them into unfavorable jobs and situations. I believe they are material witnesses to a federal crime, and any attempt to deport these workers would likely be obstruction of justice.”
Taylor, President of UNITE HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union representing over 275,000 members, many of whom are immigrants, people of color and women, said, “Donald Trump has criminalized, dehumanized, and blamed immigrant workers, as both a candidate and, now, as President, all while profiting from their hard work. Now, the Trump organization has fired these workers, hoping it will scare them into silence. But, we’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen. We will support these workers, and the many like them, to bring them out of the shadows and ensure their protection.”
David Leopold, current Partner/Chair for Ulmer & Berne LLP’s Immigration Practice Group and the former President of American Immigration Lawyers Association, said, “The number of undocumented workers alleging they were recruited, hired and abused by the Trump organization is growing almost daily. It’s clear the Trump organization is a criminal enterprise engaged in a pattern and practice of knowingly hiring and abusing undocumented workers. The brave men and women who have come forward are victims of serious criminal activity. This demands a thorough, robust and complete investigation by federal and state authorities. In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security must protect the workers by providing them with legal protection including deferred action, U and T visas and other forms of relief. No one is above the law, including the President of the United States.”
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 demanded “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. 1324
- 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 or 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.