As the race for the presidency continues, Republican nominee Donald Trump has made headlines with his staunch anti-immigration policy, claiming that illegal immigrants are taking jobs and money from American citizens and having vowed to erect a wall on the Mexican border as well as ban Muslims from entering the country. Most are aware of Trump’s attitude towards undocumented immigration, but less know of his New York modeling agency, Trump Model Management, and the number of foreign models it has brought over on tourist visas. Financial statements indicate that Trump profited nearly $2 million last year from his modeling agency, of which he owns an 85% stake.
According to a report from Mother Jones, who interviewed three separate models who all worked on tourist visas, Trump Model Management profited from using foreigners that were not permitted to work in the United States. The three former Trump models said they came to New York in hope of starting a career- but without proper work visas, they lived in constant fear of getting caught.
One of the models who came forward, Rachel Blais, said she spent three years working for Trump’s modeling agency, during which time she appeared on his TV show, the Apprentice, as well as multiple fashion spreads. During this time, she was was forced to live in cramped apartments similar to “sweatshops” while being charged as high as $1600 a month for a room that she shared with multiple other models. Blais remarked that many models are not in a position to complain about their arrangements because are they are “sitting ducks” in fear of losing work or being deported. Other former Trump models say they were encouraged to lie to customs about why they were visiting the US.
“Honestly, they are the most crooked agency I’ve ever worked for, and I’ve worked for quite a few,”
-Rachel Blais, former Trump Model
Because of the low pay and high fees for rent and expenses, models say they barely made any money having worked there. Blais left after three years, having received only one check for $8,427 after having made them tens of thousands. Another model, Alexia Palmer, filed a complaint against Trump Model Management after working “like a slave”, having earned only $3,880 after three years of modeling work. Trump’s modeling agency was one of many agencies named in a lawsuit for charging exorbitant fees to their models.
Trump recently claimed that when an American “loses their job to an illegal immigrant, the rights of that American citizen have been violated.” He plans to crack down on visitors to the United States who overstay their visas. His policies has caused one former Trump model to denounce him as a hypocrite, noting: “He doesn’t like the face of a Mexican or a Muslim,” she said, “but because these [models] are beautiful girls, it’s okay?
Read the full article at Mother Jones.