Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Railing against illegal immigration and promising to build a U.S./Mexico border wall are two of the ways in which President Donald Trump fires up his base at MAGA rallies, yet media outlets ranging from the Washington Post to the Spanish-language Univision network have reported that the Trump Organization has continued to use undocumented workers in 2019 — and some of the workers who were fired from the Trump Winery in Virginia this week are alleging that they weren’t fired until extensive use had already been made of their labor.
According to Post reporters Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold, supervisors at the Trump Winery fired seven employees on Monday because they lacked legal immigration status. And two of the seven are asserting that they weren’t fired until it became convenient for the Winery, which the president’s son, Eric Trump, oversees.
One of the fired workers, Honduras native and tractor driver Omar Miranda, told the Post, “They didn’t make this decision in the summer because they needed us a lot then.” And another worker, who was interviewed on condition of anonymity, told the Post, “I think they wanted to get their product out well, the grapes, to make sure that was taken care of — and once things were slow, they could fire us all.”
Partlow and Fahrenthold report that the Trump Winery “has long relied on a couple dozen immigrants — primarily from Mexico — who legally arrive year after year on seasonal work visas, living in a dormitory on the winery property during the harvest. But there has also long been a smaller parallel staff of undocumented employees who worked at the property year-round. This was the group fired on Monday.”
Miranda’s immigration status, according to Partlow and Fahrenthold, didn’t come up until this week. His productivity was praised, and he even won $500 after Eric Trump pulled his name during a holiday raffle in early December.
Anibal Romero, an immigration lawyer who is advising Miranda, alleges that when grapes still needed to be picked, the Trump Winery was willing to overlook workers’ immigration status.
“Donald Trump has known about these workers for months,” Romero told the Post. “He waits until the fields are tended, grapes picked, wine made. He then discards them like a used paper bag — happy New Year, you’re fired.”