He profited off of them when it was convenient for him, and threw them under the bus when it wasn't.
Trump has been demonizing Latin American immigrants and claiming they're bad for the economy ever since he started running for president. But as it turns out, Trump has also spent years personally benefiting from the labor of undocumented Latin American immigrants at his golf clubs.
Now that his secret is out, the Washington Post reports at least one of Trump's golf clubs is suddenly scrambling to fire undocumented workers who have been loyal employees in good standing for years — even though their undocumented status was hardly a secret.
Through interviews and documents, the Post learned that about a dozen undocumented workers from Latin America were fired on Jan. 18 from the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York.
Many had worked there for years, and said the firings felt like a shocking betrayal. One former maintenance worker from Mexico, Gabriel Sedano, told the Post that he started to cry after being fired from the job he'd held since 2005.
"I had worked almost 15 years for them in this club, and I'd given the best of myself to this job," Sedano said. "I'd never done anything wrong, only work and work."
Margarita Cruz, a housekeeping employee from Mexico who was fired after eight years, said her bosses had said "absolutely nothing" about her immigration status before suddenly firing her.
"They never said, 'Your Social Security number is bad' or 'Something is wrong,'" Cruz said. "Nothing. Nothing. Until right now."
And according to one former manager of the club, the Trump Organization took a "don't ask, don't tell" approach to hiring undocumented immigrants. They knew it was likely to happen, the former manager said, but they didn't care — all they cared about was getting "the cheapest labor possible," and they thought they could get away with it because immigration raids seemed unlikely to happen at posh golf clubs.
This is the second Trump golf club to make the news for using undocumented labor. In December, the New York Times published a report featuring interviews with two women who said they'd worked at a Trump golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for years despite their undocumented status, and that they had other coworkers in similar situations.
The two reports from the two clubs have a lot in common. They both feature workers who had been loyal employees for many years — some of whom even had fond personal memories of Trump — but who felt betrayed by their employers and by Trump's vicious anti-immigration rhetoric.
And both include credible allegations that the Trump Organization either knew or should have known that it was likely employing undocumented workers. Multiple workers even claimed that their supervisors actively helped or encouraged them to get better illegal paperwork to avoid detection.
Anibal Romero, an attorney who organized the interviews between the Post and the fired New York golf club workers, told the Post that the Trump Organization has shown "a pattern and practice of hiring undocumented immigrants, not only in New Jersey, but also in New York."
Trump still owns the two clubs, along with 14 others worldwide, and his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. handle the day-to-day business concerns.
In a statement, Eric Trump tried to pretend that because the "system is broken," the Trump Organization is now responsibly cracking down on something it had no reason to know about before. He also claimed that this debacle is one of the reasons "my father is fighting so hard for immigration reform."
It's pretty rich to claim that Trump's insistence on causing the longest government shutdown in history over funding for an ineffective border wall counts as "fighting" for "immigration reform" — especially when Trump himself has made money off the same people he claims to want to keep out of the country.
If Trump really wanted to fight hard for immigration reform, he could easily have started in his own back yard. Instead, he chose to profit from the sweat of hard-working people when it suited him, and throw them under the bus when it didn't.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.