One of the brave undocumented immigrants who stepped forward to share their story about working at one of impeached president Donald Trump’s businesses could face deportation after her asylum claim was rejected. “Victorina Morales, 47, had asked the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to grant her asylum because of violence in her home country of Guatemala,” The Washington Post reported. “But the agency rejected her request, saying Morales had waited too long to apply, according to a letter from the agency.”
That violence included watching her father being murdered. Following USCIS’ rejection, her case will now be in front of an immigration judge. Morales hopes the court can not only take into account her father’s tragic murder, but also how her high profile could make her a target in Guatemala after speaking out about workplace exploitation and abuses committed by businesses owned by the president of the United States.
In that explosive New York Times profile back in 2018, the world found out Morales worked so closely with Trump during her five years at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club that she struggled to remove his makeup stains from his clothes. Her service also stretched into his presidency: ”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,” the report said. “Because of the ‘outstanding’ support she has provided during Mr. Trump’s visits, Ms. Morales in July was given a certificate from the White House Communications Agency inscribed with her name.”
But the mounting workplaces abuses coupled with watching him slander and malign the same immigrants who keep his businesses running became too much, and she spoke out. “He is acting this way knowing that we are working for him inside,” she told The Post last year.
There have been many other workers, too. We’ve written about Sandra Diaz, who worked alongside Morales and also lacked paperwork at the time she was at Bedminster. There are the undocumented workers at Trump’s Virginia winery, who, in true Trumpian fashion, said the Trump Organization waited to fire them until after the grape harvest. “Workers had finished the arduous annual grape harvest, which involved working 60-hour weeks and overnight shifts under floodlights,” The Post reported then.
“The number of undocumented immigrants alleging they were recruited, hired and abused by the Trump organization at the Bedminster Club has grown and is likely growing,” leading immigration attorney David Leopold said after Morales and Diaz first went public. “These allegations smack of a pattern and practice of criminal activity and civil violations by the Trump organization.” And let’s not forget Trump himself has already admitted he knows he employs undocumented workers.
It’s also worth noting that USCIS apparently had time to reject Morales’ asylum claim but no time to follow numerous court orders and reopen the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to new applicants. USCIS also refused to reschedule naturalization ceremonies that were canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, until it was sued. According to The Post, “Morales was given a court date on Aug. 26 but is unlikely to face deportation then, [attorney Anibal] Romero said. Immigration proceedings can take a year or more.”
She shouldn’t have to live under that kind of uncertainty, and neither should millions of others, Morales said. The Post notes that in one rally she’s appeared at since going public with her story, the housekeeper said she’s also fighting for the millions of other undocumented immigrants who need their chance to be able to live in the U.S. without fear. “We are here to show our faces, not just for ourselves, but for the 11 million [undocumented] immigrants who are here in the country,” she said.