On Monday night, President Trump will hold a campaign rally in El Paso, to renew his calls for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
It’s a message Trump has hammered in recent weeks, both during a 35-day government shutdown and now amid a new budget impasse that could paralyze parts of the government again. He has repeatedly claimed illegal immigration brings drugs, crime and low-cost labor that drives down prospects for legal American workers.
“Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate,” Trump said in his State of the Union address last week. “It is cruel.”
Last week, The Post reported on a pipeline that provided dozens of workers without legal status for Trump’s prized golf club in Bedminster, N.J., stretching back to its construction in 2002. Many former Bedminster workers now live in a small village in Costa Rica, where they own homes paid for with “Trump money,” as one put it.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the Trump Organization’s use of illegal labor:
How many Trump properties have employed illegal workers — and for how long?
At least five golf courses — and for 17 years at one club.
Since December, when the New York Times told the story of two women who worked without legal status at Bedminster, the Trump Organization has fired undocumented workers at five of its 12 U.S. golf clubs. Three of the clubs are in New Jersey, in the towns of Bedminster, Colts Neck and Pine Hill. Two are in New York, in Westchester and Dutchess counties.
In Westchester, 11 workers were fired in January, including some who had been at the club for more than a decade. Several of those workers told The Post they were abruptly fired after a meeting with a Trump Organization executive.
“I started to cry,” said Gabriel Sedano, a former maintenance worker from Mexico who was among those fired. He had worked at the club since 2005. “I told them they needed to consider us. I had worked almost 15 years for them in this club, and I’d given the best of myself to this job.”
At the Bedminster club, workers without legal status were hired even longer ago — back in 2002, when the course was being built.
So far, at least 18 people have been fired after an internal audit showed their papers were fraudulent, according to Eric Trump, a son of the president who runs the company with his brother, Donald Trump Jr.
Did their supervisors know about their status?
Former Trump workers said there were dozens like them working without legal status — an estimated 100 in Bedminster alone. They told The Post they believed their managers knew.
“My whole town practically lived there,” one Costa Rican worker said of the Bedminster club.
One former manager at Trump’s Westchester club told The Post the attitude about workers without legal status among supervisors was “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
A worker from Ecuador said she told Bedminster’s general manager several years ago she entered the country illegally.
In another flag to the management, a Bedminster police officer investigating a hit-and-run in 2011 arrested an employee of Trump’s club and determined he was an undocumented immigrant working under a fake name. The officer told the club’s head of security the employee “may be using a false name and government documentation.”
The worker was deported.
Did Trump know he employed workers who had entered the United States illegally?
We don’t know.
Neither the Trump Organization nor the White House has responded to questions about what Trump knew.
Eric Trump has indicated the Trump Organization was unaware of these illegal workers until recently, when he said the company was forced to fire them. “Our employees are like family, but when presented with fake documents, an employer has little choice,” he said.
As a candidate, what did Trump say about his company’s hiring practices?
During the presidential campaign, Trump said his company was using E-Verify, a voluntary federal system that allows employers to quickly check the immigration status of new hires.
“I have thousands and thousands of employees. I have hired tens of thousands of employees, many Hispanic, over the years. Many, many. They’re fantastic,” Trump said at a rally in Beaumont, Tex., in 2015.
“But I have — and I think, to me, it’s very important — E-Verify,” he continued. “So now I find out: Are they legal or not? Now, if they can’t get a job, they’re moving out. They’re going to move out — No one has to — you don’t need soldiers, they’re going to move out. It’s so simple. But a politician doesn’t know this.”
Was that true?
Only in part.
Three of Trump’s golf clubs are, indeed, listed in the official database of E-Verify users. Eric Trump said “a few” others use a vendor to screen new employees.
But other Trump properties were not using the system. The Trump Organization did not start to implement E-Verify companywide until late January, two years into Trump’s presidency.
What investigations may the Trump Organization face into its use of illegal labor?
Investigators for the New Jersey Attorney General and the FBI have gathered information from former workers at the Bedminster club, according to an attorney for some of the workers. However, the status of those inquiries remains unclear.
The New Jersey Attorney General declined to comment. The FBI declined to comment.
In a letter earlier this month to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) requested that federal authorities immediately open a probe into the hiring of illegal workers by Trump’s golf clubs.
Would a wall have stopped the undocumented workers from coming to the United States?
Some of the Trump workers without legal status said they entered the country by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Trump has said the barrier he proposes would stop such migrants from crossing the border.
Critics of his idea point out that existing stretches of wall and fencing haven’t stopped tens of thousands of people from getting through each year and that there is no end to the ways people can get over, under, around or through such barriers.
Other workers arrived on flights with tourist visas and overstayed those visas. In those cases, a wall wouldn’t matter.