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Unsealed Documents Show Trump Used Illegal Immigrant Labor To Build Trump Tower

Trump Tower in New York

Recently unsealed court documents have revealed that President Donald Trump used illegal immigrant labor for the construction of Trump Tower.

The documents come from a 1998 settlement between The Trump Organization and contractor William Kaszycki of Kaszycki & Sons, in which Trump agreed to pay $1.35M, the New York Times reports. The settlement was unsealed in response to a public records motion filed by Time Inc. and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

In 1980, Trump urgently wanted to demolish the Bonwit Teller department store at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street to make way for an expedited construction of Trump Tower, his second project since leaving his father's company. To move things along, his company hired 200 undocumented Polish workers under Kaszycki & Sons to perform demolition work without hard hats, gloves or masks, despite the presence of asbestos on the work site and the intensive labor involved.

Workers were paid as little as $4/hour, and in some cases were not paid at all, the suit alleged. Trump's use of undocumented workers as a developer stands in stark contrast to his presidential campaign and administration, which have taken hard lines against immigration with attempts to close the border to Muslim-majority countries and increased deportation practices. There is also the notorious border wall, which is partially under construction.

In court proceedings, Trump claimed to be unaware of the presence of undocumented workers on the site, but testimony from contractors and laborers contradicted his statements, claiming to witness him visiting the site multiple times.

“He liked the way the men were working on 57th Street,” a project foreman said on the stand, according to the Times. “He said, ‘Those Polish guys are good, hard workers.’”

Although Trump and Kaszycki paid settlements to the union workers on the project, a 1983 suit on behalf of the undocumented workers was found in Trump's favor, which was appealed. The plaintiffs sought $600K for a welfare fund in the first case, and $500K upon appeal. The $500K was awarded in full as part of the $1.35M settlement before the appeal was heard in 1998, with the remaining $835K from that settlement going to lawyers' fees.