A former Donald Trump employee and undocumented asylum seeker hopes to soften her former boss’s immigration policies with her presence at the State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
Victorina Morales said she fled Guatemala and arrived in the United States in 1999, looking for economic opportunities unavailable back home.
After working in a factory for nine years and later as a housekeeper at a hotel, she found work at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey in 2013 doing more housekeeping work.
Morales submitted false work documents — a method she said several of her undocumented colleagues used to gain employment at the golf club. Part of her duties included cleaning the Trump family’s rooms for when they dropped by.
Proud of the work she did there, she said she’s disheartened by what she calls anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from Trump.
“We come here used to earning our daily bread with the sweat on our forehead,” she said in Spanish. “And we’re very thankful.”
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-New Jersey, invited Morales to the speech. She called Morales the face of hardworking undocumented immigrants.
“She pays her taxes, she was a contributing member of the community,” said Watson Coleman. “She’s not the vilification that the president has continuously heaped upon illegal immigration.“
Watson Coleman said she wants people at home to see that Morales and other undocumented workers are not a threat.
Morales wants that too.
Morales claims she was treated poorly by some golf club managers because of her legal status — one manager, in particular, made degrading comments about undocumented immigrants, calling them dumb and lazy, she said. Undocumented co-workers were also mistreated, she recalled.
That treatment became worse after the election, she said, when management told her she could no longer clean the president’s residence.
Morales’ description of her time at the golf club is another grievance for Watson Coleman, who represents parts of Mercer, Middlesex, Union, and Somerset counties.
“It also speaks to the hypocrisy of Donald Trump,” Watson Coleman said. “Donald Trump, the president, has demonized illegal immigrants at the same time that Donald Trump, the businessman, has used this labor, has to a certain extent exploited this labor, and his organization even facilitated their getting documents fraudulently to put into their records so that they could work for him.”
Watson Coleman said it falls on the government to create pathways to citizenship.
In the meantime, Morales’ invitation continues to garner national media attention. It’s familiar territory since late last year when the New York Times wrote about her time working at the golf club.
Morales applied for asylum in November, according to her lawyer who is confident it will be granted.
Morales said she’s not afraid to go to Washington Tuesday because she wants to show support for all the people in the country like her.
She said she has one message for the president.
“Stop it with all his talk of the wall, the wall, the wall,” she said. “Stop the separating children from their parents, stop it with all that he’s doing already, knowing immigrants work for this country.”
At least one other undocumented former golf club employee is expected to attend the president’s address.