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Trump Organization’s Abuses of Undocumented Workers Raise Serious Criminal Issues

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David Leopold: “The pattern of behavior is criminal and the hypocrisy from Trump is unfathomable.”

Workers from Trump Organization golf clubs in New York and New Jersey have made it clear in interviews — and meetings with lawmakers in Washington —  that the Trump Organization has engaged in a multi-state criminal conspiracy that stretches back decades. Undocumented employees say supervisors helped undocumented workers procure false documents to conceal their status and that undocumented workers were compensated differently — and worse — than other employees.  The potential criminal charges against the Trump Organization include trafficking, conspiracy, false document procurement, and forced or coerced labor. The Trump Organization could also be exposed to additional tax, labor, and civil liabilities if the allegations are investigated and found to be true.

A summary of the potential criminal and civil violations is below.

According to David Leopold, Counsel to DHS Watch, Chair of Immigration at Ulmer & Berne and former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

The Trump Presidency is founded on his outrage over immigrant workers, yet his company is  knowingly exploiting and trafficking in immigrant workers for profit. The pattern of behavior is criminal and the hypocrisy from Trump is unfathomable.

Eric Trump, the Trump Organization, and the White House are scrambling to deny, deflect and distract the press in the face of the powerful and compelling stories of the workers.  But the reality is pretty stark, workers who are eyewitnesses to the Trump Organization’s multi-state criminal conspiracy are making their voices heard and lawmakers are listening.

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.