Victorina Morales had worked at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, since 2013. The Guatemala native’s attorney advised her not to return to work after revealing her immigration status to The New York Times in December, and she currently faces deportation.
Morales will attend Trump’s State of the Union speech as a guest of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. The Washington Post first reported the invitation, which Watson Coleman’s office later confirmed in a news release.
“President Trump justified shutting the government down for five weeks by demonizing immigrants as the scourge of the country and the root of our nation’s crime and insecurity,” the news release said. “We need to implement a true bipartisan immigration reform plan ― one that both secures our border and establishes a pathway to citizenship for people like Victorina, who are positively contributing to our communities.”
The invitation came after reports of the Trump Organization failing to properly check its employees’ work status while the president himself demanded $5.7 billion to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The wall demand led to the government shutdown that recently ended after 35 days.
The president’s son Eric Trump said Tuesday that the organization plans to institute E-Verify, a federal program that allows employers to check employees’ immigration status.
Elected officials will sometimes use the opportunity to invite a guest to the State of the Union as a way to make a social or political statement. Trump used his first address in 2017 to invite relatives of people he said were killed by undocumented immigrants. President Barack Obama in 2016 invited a Dreamer, an undocumented immigrant brought to the U.S. as a child, who served in the military.
Morales, who came to the U.S. illegally in 1999, has been vocally campaigning for fair treatment of undocumented immigrants since she lost her job. On Tuesday, she joined three other former club workers on Capitol Hill to push lawmakers for protection and an investigation into the Trump Organization’s hiring practices.
“I hope that in his State of the Union address, Donald Trump will finally acknowledge the real face of immigrants in this country ― women and children fleeing violence, law-abiding, tax-paying people who would do almost anything to be Americans,” Watson Coleman’s release said. “And if he can’t, I’ve invited Victorina so that he may look her in her eyes to tell his lies to a familiar face.”