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By Kate Snow
Two years ago, when Donald Trump was running for president, he proudly declared that he employed no undocumented immigrants in the construction of his grand Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
That doesn’t appear to be true for some of his other properties.
When Victorina Morales went to work in 2013 as a housekeeper at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, “I told them that I don’t have papers, I don’t speak English and that I was an immigrant,” she told NBC News on Thursday in an interview.
“They said, ‘No, it doesn’t matter,'” she said.
Morales, 45, left Guatemala and illegally crossed the U.S. border in 1999, according to The New York Times, which she and a second woman who used to work at the golf club, Sandra Diaz, approached to tell their story in an article published earlier Thursday.
Morales, who still works at the golf club, told NBC News that she knows she could be fired or deported for having come forward.
Diaz, 46, who is from Costa Rica, worked at the golf club from 2010 to 2013, she said. She is now a legal resident of the United States.
They told The Times that at least two supervisors were aware of their immigration statuses and took steps to help workers evade detection.
“There are many people without papers,” Diaz told the newspaper.
The Trump Organization LLC, the primary holding company for the president’s hundreds of businesses, referred NBC News to the White House, which didn’t directly address the Times report. It said in a statement:
“We have tens of thousands of employees across our properties and have very strict hiring practices. If any employee submitted false documentation in an attempt to circumvent the law, they will be terminated immediately.”
NBC News reported in 2016 that Trump Tower in New York, the 58-story crown jewel of Trump’s real estate empire, was built using the labor of undocumented Polish immigrants almost 40 decades ago.
Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he hadn’t known about the workers’ legal statuses, and he made illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, promising to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep undocumented immigrants out and to carry out mass deportations of those already in the country.
Morales actually liked working for Trump, she told NBC News. But she found his rhetoric about people like her distressing.
“When I saw how he talked about us when he started his presidency, I felt humiliated,” she said.
Alex Johnson contributed.