Donald Trump’s immigration speech in Phoenix on Wednesday sought to solidify his party’s platform on illegal immigrants, an issue that Trump has made the lynch pin of his campaign since day one. But news that his modeling agency once hired immigrant models and put them to work illegally could undermine all of that.
A new investigative report by Mother Jones claims that Trump Model Management, which Trump established in 1999, exploited illegal immigrants and forced them to work in inhumane conditions. Trump still owns an 85 percent stake in the agency, The New York Daily News reports.
“Honestly, they are the most crooked agency I’ve ever worked for,” said Rachel Blais, a Canadian model who says she signed with Trump Model Management in 2004 and did jobs for the company without a visa.
Ex-Trump models, including Rachel Blais (left), say they worked illegally for the GOP nominee’s modeling agency. pic.twitter.com/hFrE73rhcL
— Mohamed Arafa (@arafamarafa) August 31, 2016
The former Trump models claim that they were forced to live in a crowded basement apartment in New York City’s East Village, Mother Jones reports. At times, more than 10 people lived in the two bedroom apartment, and the former immigrant models say they slept on bunk beds that were squeezed into each room.
“It is like modern-day slavery…most of the girls in the apartment that were not American didn’t have a work visa,” Blais said.
Other former models signed to Trump’s modelling agency agreed.
“We’re hoarded into these small spaces,” a woman who identified herself as Kate said. “The apartment was like a sweatshop.”
“I was by far the oldest in the house at the ripe old age of 18,” Anna recalled.
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The illegal immigration accusations around Trump Model Management mirror recent claims about the past immigrant status of Donald Trump’s wife, Melania Trump. As The New York Daily News reports, there had been suggestions that Slovenia-born Melania, a former fashion model herself, used to work in the United States illegally.
Kate called Trump out on his apparent hypocrisy
“He doesn’t like the face of a Mexican or a Muslim,” Kate said of Trump’s promises to ban all Muslim immigration and to build a wall to to stop all Mexican illegal immigrants. “But because these models are beautiful girls, it’s OK? He’s such a hypocrite.”
Donald Trump’s immigration views have been pretty hardcore since the day he announced that he planned to run for president.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you,” Trump said during the campaign announcement speech at the Tower Atrium in Manhattan in June, 2015. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The anti-Mexican immigrant comments generated lots of backlash for Trump’s campaign but just over a year later he’s the Republican Party’s nominee for president.
And although Trump’s stance on illegal immigration seems pretty tough, foreign models signed to Trump Model Management were allegedly encouraged to lie to customs officers about the reasons they were coming to the United States.
“If they ask you any questions, you’re just here for meetings,” Anna says she was told.
This week in Phoenix, Arizona, Donald Trump’s immigration speech reiterated his earlier hard-line views on deportation and “zero tolerance” of illegal immigrants, The New York Times reports.
Based on what he said during the speech in Phoenix, Trump’s plans for dealing with illegals include building a wall along the border with Mexico, ending catch and release policies in favor of deportation to home countries, and a repeal of President Obama’s executive orders which allow undocumented workers time to apply for a work permit.
“People will know that you can’t just smuggle in, hunker down, and wait to be legalized,” Trump said. “Not going to work that way. Those days are over.”
It’s very different view to the one expressed during Donald Trump’s Mexico visit recently. So different that Trump was accused of flip flopping on immigration when he returned to the U.S.
As The New York Times notes, during a joint press conference between Donald Trump and Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump heaped compliments on Mexican-Americans, saying they were “spectacular hardworking people” who were “beyond reproach.”
Do you think that Donald Trump’s immigration policies are hypocritical. Tell us in the comments below.
[Photos by Frazer Harrison, Matt Carr/Getty Images]