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Immigrants fired from Trump golf clubs seek White House meeting

Undocumented workers fired from Trump club

A group of immigrant workers fired from President Trump's golf clubs say they want to meet with him at the White House to make the case that they should not be deported. The 21 maids, groundskeepers and other workers fired earlier this year from five of Mr. Trump's clubs asked their former employer in a letter this week to remember all their hard work and give them a chance to make their case in person why they should stay in the country.

"I'm hopeful that he'll look at the letter. I believe he has a heart," said Gabriel Sedano, who worked for 14 years as a handyman at Mr. Trump's club in Westchester County, New York, before he was fired in January.

The response on White House stationery Wednesday, in what appeared to be a form letter, assured the workers that "we are reviewing your message." The White House didn't respond Friday to a request for further comment.

The troubles for the workers started in December when a maid who had made the president's bed at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, told The New York Times that a supervisor there knew she and other housekeepers and workers were in the country illegally, and used their status against them if they complained about working conditions.

Two women came forward to speak to CBS News in December to say they were employed at a golf resort owned by the Trump Organization, even though they were living in the country illegally. 

Victorina Morales, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, has worked at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey for five years. She said she used to make his bed and clean the bathrooms. She claims her bosses knew she was not authorized to live in the U.S. but hired her anyway. Sandra Diaz also said she also worked at the club while she was undocumented.

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A sign is seen at an entrance to the Trump National Golf Club August 9, 2018 in Bedminster, New Jersey.  Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty

In early 2019, other workers at other Trump clubs without proper documents — some employed by him for a decade or more — began speaking out, and the Trump Organization began rounds of firings.

The Trump Organization has said it does not tolerate workers who lie about their status and only recently discovered its workers were in the country illegally. It did not respond to requests for comment about the proposed White House meeting.

Mr. Trump told reporters Friday that he was unaware of any undocumented workers at his properties.

"I don't know because I don't run it," Mr. Trump said when asked if he believed that undocumented immigrants were no longer working at his clubs, the Times reported. "But I would say this: Probably every club in the United States has that because it seems to be, from what I understand, a way that people did business."

Democrats in Congress requested earlier this year that the FBI look into whether the Trump Organization acted as a "criminal enterprise" by knowingly hiring workers with false documents and even helping them procure such papers, as some fired workers have claimed.

A lawyer for 39 former Trump workers, Anibal Romero, said he has been interviewed by the FBI as well as the offices of attorneys general in New Jersey and New York, though he declined to talk about what was discussed.

The letter from the workers said the president knows many of them and asked him to "do the right thing" and "not deport us and our friends and family."

"You know we are hard workers and that we are not criminals or seeking a free ride in America," the letter said. "We all pay our taxes, love our faith and our family, and simply want to find a place for ourselves to make America even better."

Former club handyman Sedano said he couldn't believe it when he was fired in January because he was a trusted employee who was asked to do work on Eric Trump's house nearby, and given access to come and go as he pleased.

"I had keys to the house, all the codes. I knew him personally," said Sedano, who has three children in the U.S., the youngest 8. He added: "I was the first one fired. There was a list. I was the first one."

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