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Undocumented Immigrants Talk About Their Time Working for Trump

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Undocumented Immigrants Talk About Their Time Working for Trump

2019-12-05 18:53:30

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz (Image source: Screenshot)

In the midst of all of Donald Trump's plans with immigration, executive orders, policy changes, etc., two women came out and publicly declared themselves as undocumented immigrants. What made their story interesting to all was who they worked for: Donald Trump. A year later, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz are talking more about their time working for him and what they have gone through since coming forward.

The Washington Post spoke with 48 people over the past year who had worked illegally for the Trump Organization at 11 properties in Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. These people have seen everything in the family. The employment histories of the workers have been verified by pay stubs and tax documents. They have stated that their managers knew they were undocumented.  

As Trump walked the grounds of his properties, he would inspect the work being done and would ask nearly every immigrant the same three questions: their name, how long they'd worked there, and if they liked it. He would often pull out $50 and $100 bills and tip them.

Diaz felt the need to be invisible working as Trump's personal housekeeper at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. To accomplish this, she'd tie her hair back, don latex gloves and paper shoe coverings, and refrain from wearing makeup or perfume. 

She would set things up for him the way he'd want them, with six identical golf outfits, six white polo shirts, six pairs of beige pants, and six ironed pairs of boxer shorts hung up in his closet. Additionally, she would put a dollop of the liquid makeup he wears on the back of her hand just to make sure it hadn't dried out.

Not that everyone saw the workers as invisible. Gabriel Juarez worked as head waiter for ten years at one of Trump's New York golf clubs. A member of the club jokingly said to him, "You're still here? How come we can't get rid of you? I'm going to call Trump, you [expletive] Mexican." 

Not everyone at the clubs was a fan of the president, and it was up to the workers to clean off the anti-Trump graffiti that was left on the mirror in the Bedminster men's locker room. They would also be told things by supervisors that made them sound like they were said during a Trump rally: "Now don't forget, let's make Mar-a-Lago great again."

The cooks and servers knew that Trump liked well-done cheeseburgers and small glass bottles of Diet Coke with a plastic straw. In his bedroom dresser at all times he wanted two full containers of Tic Tacs and one half-filled container. He wanted the same amount of face makeup that he got from Switzerland. It would stain the collars on his shirts, and they would need to be replaced. Melania Trump's clothing was washed in a separate washing machine. 

The president likes Irish Spring bar soap in his showers, but the housekeepers aren't allowed to throw out the small slivers that are left. He decides when it will be thrown out. Whenever he discarded things, including clothes and newspapers, he'd toss them on the floor. His father-in-law, Viktor Knavs, often gets his old clothing.

Knavs went out to play golf wearing an old red baseball cap of Trump's. When he was spotted by Trump, he got upset and ordered the older man to remove the hat and leave the golf course. He returned to the villa, threw the cap on the ground and cursed his son-in-law. 

But there were touching moments as well. Morales, 4-foot-11-inches, couldn't reach the tops of the windows she was washing at the pro shop at Bedminster. She was getting laughed at by guys inside. Trump came out, picked up the rag, and started to clean the windows for her.

Morales was Diaz's successor at Bedminster. When they spoke out for the first time last December, they weren't looking for money as had been assumed. They wanted to highlight what they saw as hypocrisy. This meant that other undocumented immigrants could no longer work there and not worry they'd be picked up, as it led to searches at the properties for undocumented immigrants. 

Many undocumented workers were worried about giving their real names and fake documents to government employees. An undocumented worked on the banquet staff at Mar-a-Lago started skipping events if they seemed too political.  He didn't like hearing the conservatives talk about abortion or gay marriage and reports he "got kind of tired of all these anti-immigration [events]."

Morales saw her father murdered in Guatemala when just a child and came to the U.S. illegally in 1999. She worked in a warehouse packing disposable diapers before getting hired by Trump. She began to worry about the way he talked about Central Americans, not knowing if he would round up her family and send them back to Guatemala. That's where she saw the hypocrisy. 

Diaz became a permanent U.S. resident after she left Bedminster. Her husband and son, though, are still undocumented. After seeing Anibal Romero, an immigration lawyer, discuss these things on Facebook, she went to his office to see him. Morales later joined her.

He suspected the Trump Organization was regularly employing undocumented workers, violating federal law. He wanted Diaz and Morales, as well as their coworkers, to become his clients and be material witnesses, which would protect them from being deported. He put them in contact with an assistant New Jersey attorney general, but when Morales started to put her fake Social Security and green cards away, he took them. 

Diaz began working for Val Della Pello , a paving company president and member of the Bedminster club. She became his housekeeper and a member of the family. Once she and Morales appeared on TV to tell their stories, the next day Della Pello was disappointed in her. It was the last day she saw him.

Coworkers of Diaz and Morales turned against them as well. But once Diaz spoke out, she felt relief as well as a new sense of purpose to stand up for the other immigrants Trump often rails against. She became an advocate for other undocumented Trump employees, working for Romero's law firm. Morales has applied for asylum and has been granted a legal work permit. 

The two plan to attend town hall meetings of the Democratic presidential candidates this week.

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