BEDMINSTER, New Jersey — During more than five years as a housekeeper at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Victorina Morales has made Donald Trump’s bed, cleaned his toilet and dusted his crystal golf trophies. When he visited as president, she was directed to wear a pin in the shape of the American flag adorned with a Secret Service logo.
Because of the “outstanding” support she has provided during Trump’s visits, Morales in July was given a certificate from the White House Communications Agency inscribed with her name.
Quite an achievement for an immigrant housekeeper living in the country without legal permission.
Morales’ journey from cultivating corn in rural Guatemala to fluffing pillows at an exclusive golf resort took her from the southwest border, where she said she crossed illegally in 1999, to the horse country of New Jersey, where she was hired at the Trump property in 2013 with documents she said were phony.
She said she was not the only worker at the club who was in the country illegally.
Sandra Diaz, 46, a native of Costa Rica who is now a legal resident of the United States, said she, too, was in the country without legal permission when she worked at Bedminster between 2010 and 2013. The two women said they worked for years as part of a group of housekeeping, maintenance and landscaping employees at the golf club that included a number of workers in the country without legal permission, though they could not say precisely how many. There is no evidence that Trump or Trump Organization executives knew of their immigration status. But at least two supervisors at the club were aware of it, the women said, and took steps to help workers evade detection and keep their jobs.
“There are many people without papers,” said Diaz, who said she witnessed several people being hired whom she knew to be living in the country without legal permission.
Trump has made border security and the fight to protect jobs for Americans a cornerstone of his presidency, from the border wall he has pledged to build to the workplace raids and payroll audits that his administration has carried out.
During the presidential campaign, when the Trump International Hotel opened for business in Washington, Trump boasted that he had used an electronic verification system, E-Verify, to ensure that only those legally entitled to work were hired.
“We didn’t have one illegal immigrant on the job,” Trump said then.
But throughout his campaign and his administration, Morales, 45, has been reporting for work at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, where she is still on the payroll. An employee of the golf course drives her and a group of others to work every day, she says, because it is known that they cannot legally obtain driver’s licenses.
A diminutive woman with only two years of education who came to the United States speaking no English, Morales has had an unusual window into one of the president’s favorite retreats: She has cleaned the president’s villa while he watched television nearby; she stood on the sidelines when potential Cabinet members were brought in for interviews and when the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, arrived to confer with the president.