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The undocumented worker who made Trump's hamburgers

Hamburgers almost burned. That's what Trump used to ask for. This is the story of the undocumented Mexican who prepared it for him in the kitchen of the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, New York.
6 May 2019 – 03:42 PM EDT
Donaciano Sedano, first from the left, with the team of chefs from the Donald Trump golf club in Westchester, New York. Crédito: Courtesy of Donaciano Sedano.

Donaciano Sedano says he and a close friend were living in Yonkers, New York in 2005 when they saw an add on the Internet offering jobs at a Trump golf club in Westchester, New York

They filled out their applications, mailed them and soon after were called for an interview. “They needed staff urgently for the restaurant. They hired us right away” says Sedano, now 49, at his home in Puebla, Mexico.

Everything seemed like standard procedure, except three years earlier Sedano had entered the United States illegally and had no legal work documents.

His case, unpublished until now, is the latest in a growing number of Hispanic immigrants who in recent months have disclosed publicly how they were hired by the Trump Organization without documents. According to their testimonies, they did it with the consent of the managers of the clubs they worked at.

Sedano says he submitted a fake social security card, bought in the Bronx, but that was not a problem. The document was not verified and he was hired immediately for the Club’s kitchen, where his main guest was the owner of the business: millionaire businessman Donald Trump.

Around that time the club opened its restaurant. Of the eight people working in the kitchen, including the chef, half were undocumented, Sedano says.

Trump used to arrive at the restaurant alone and early. There was always a special warning when he arrived:

“When the boss was coming, they used to tell us: don’t move, stay calm, no one can be seen”, he says.

Although he never spoke with him, Sedano quickly learned the special requests of his new boss. He never saw him eating with his family.

“I used to prepare the hamburger for him, very well done, almost like charcoal, or hot dogs. He always ate the same”.

Donaciano was the first of four members of the Sedano family, originally from San Simón Yehualtepec, in Puebla, who have worked without legal papers for the Trumps in Westchester over the past 15 years. Six other acquaintances of his were hired at the club after his recommendation. None had legal documents.

He doesn't have good memories of the president.

“Long before he launched his campaign, I realized that the man was a racist, that he didn’t like the Latino people”, he says.

One time, he remembers, the manager announced that everything needed to be ready because Trump would eat there with a business partner.

“The gentleman was like a sultan, an Arab oilman. They gave us all the day free. They told us that the boss didn’t want to see any Latino there”, recalls the cook.

Like him, many other undocumented employees occupied the seasonal jobs during the summer and the Christmas season. When those periods ended, they closed the restaurant and dismissed them.

He worked for seven months in the club’s kitchen. “We worked sometimes from 6 in the morning to 12 at night. As they did not have a lot of staff, they paid us double or triple on weekends, but it was a lot of work, standing all day”, he says.

Sedano returned to Mexico in 2009 and now lives in Puebla. His relatives, who stayed at the club, say they were discriminated against in payments and work conditions for being undocumented.

“Those who were legal earned more. But we couldn’t claim anything. We were afraid to speak, that they could send us to the Court or something”.