NJ cops told Trump club back in 2011 that it hired unauthorized immigrant
BEDMINSTER — Donald Trump's family business has expressed shock in recent months that its golf clubs, including the one in Somerset County, had been hiring workers who were in the country illegally.
But police records obtained by The Washington Post reveal that the security manager at Trump National in Bedminster knew about an employee using false documents back in 2011, years before Trump kicked off a presidential campaign focused on cracking down on illegal immigration.
Since the campaign, Trump has insisted that his company relies on E-Verify to make sure that job applicants are legally allowed to work in the United States. But the Post report published Friday says that at a number of Trump properties did not use the service and that at least five of his properties hired illegal workers.
The Trump companies hired so many illegal workers, that "that there’s an entire town in Costa Rica built on Trump paychecks," Post reporter David Fahrenthold noted while linking to his story on Twitter.
Last month, a dozen workers were fired from a Trump golf club in New York after they were found to be in the country illegally.
In December, immigrant workers at Bedminster came forward to say that managers had hired them and others knowing that they were not legally allowed to remain in the country.
An attorney for the workers said managers knew about fake documents and illegal workers for years but looked the other way despite Trump's rhetoric and repeated insistence that his company makes every effort not to hire illegal workers.
The Bedminster police report obtained by The Washington Post under the state's Open Public Records Act was filed by an officer investigating a hit-and-run crash at the Trump golf club.
The officer's report said he questioned a driver who had been working under the name of Reynaldo Villareal but who told the cop that his real name was Fredis Otero.
Although Otero denied being involved in the crash, he admitted that he was working under a fake name and Social Security number.
When the officer informed the Trump club's head of security, the Trump official provided the cop with the employee's job application, which had a copy of Social Security and permanent resident cards in the name of Reynaldo Villareal, although the first name was misspelled on the application.
The officer said that he found an envelope in Otero's car with the name "Fredis Otero." Inside were payroll checks made out to Villareal.
Otero told the officer that he had walked off a ship he had worked for when it docked in Miami and then overstayed a three-month vacation visa that expired in June 2010. After moving to New Jersey, he said he paid a woman $120 to get a fake Social Security card and a green card. He then paid $50 online to get an international driver's license.
The Colombian national then used those fake documents to get a job at the Bedminster club, which is one of President Trump's favorite residences and the place where he most often has spent time outside the White House during his presidency.
Bedminster police arrested Otero and he was later taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which told the Post that Otero was deported in August 2011.
It is not known if Trump personally knew that his family business was continuing to employee illegal labor.
In addition to calling for a border wall between this nation and Mexico, Trump has also suggested stiffer penalties for U.S. employers who hire unauthorized immigrants.
Only Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah require E-Verify for new hires. In other states, federal law does not punish employers who hire workers who provide phony documents unless authorities can prove that the employers knowingly hired unauthorized workers, according to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Federal lawmakers are considering making E-Verify a national requirement.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.