WASHINGTON — Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) is calling on federal authorities to open a probe into allegations contained in an investigative report that Trump Model Management violated immigration laws by employing foreign models who did not have the proper visas to work in the U.S.
Boxer’s call for an investigation stems from a report published on the “Mother Jones” web site on Aug. 30 that quoted three former models alleging they worked for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s New York modeling agency on tourist visas.
A Trump Organization executive defended the company’s record and said all of its current models are in compliance with immigration laws.
In a letter to León Rodríguez, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, Boxer called the allegations “disturbing.”
“Firsthand accounts by several former Trump models, coupled with a thorough review of financial and immigration records by Mother Jones, indicate widespread noncompliance with immigration and labor laws by Trump Model Management,” Boxer said in the letter, which was copied to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.
“Specifically, the article alleges that the company profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here,” she wrote. “Further, it appears that Trump Model Management failed to obtain work visas on behalf of models they employed despite being aware of their immigration status. I am extremely concerned by the claims levied against Trump Model Management and ask that you open an investigation into the company’s employment practices.”
Trump has railed against undocumented immigrants from the day he launched his presidential bid, claiming they steal jobs from Americans and he has pledged to deport millions of “illegal” immigrants.
The real estate mogul turned presidential contender has proposed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, claiming he will force the Mexican government to pay for it to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, and also vowed to penalize foreign visitors who overstay their visas.
But allegations from former models that surfaced in the Mother Jones report are now pointing the finger at Trump’s own employment practices.
Trump is said to hold an 85 percent stake in Trump Model Management, according to the Mother Jones report, which cited campaign financial disclosures in May, stating he earned nearly $2 million from the company.
The report quoted three former Trump models, all claiming to be non-U.S. citizens, who said they worked for the agency on tourist visas that did not allow them to work here legally.
Ron Lieberman, an executive vice president for the Trump Organization, said the company has reviewed all of its current records for the 201 models that work for it and found that “everything is in compliance.”
“We went through all of our current records and every girl who is working with us currently has what they need to be properly working,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman said he could not comment on the three women who made allegations in the Mother Jones report because the records go back many years. In addition, two of the three women quoted in the article spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“What we did do is we checked all of our current records, went through our roster of girls one by one and everything is being done perfectly and in compliance with immigration law,” Lieberman said. “If they are working with us they will have to have what they need to do that– a proper work visa.”
He defended the company’s record, saying that it is has been a “highly respected modeling agency in the fashion business since its inception. We’ve prided ourselves on running an agency that girls work for us really enjoy their experience.”
According to the Department of Labor’s web site, several government agencies are involved in granting permission to foreigners to work in the U.S. Employers must first seek certification through the agency and once an application is certified or approved, the employer must petition the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service for a visa. The Labor Department said an approval by it does not guarantee a visa issuance and noted that applicants must also establish that they are admissible under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“Foreign labor certification programs are generally designed to assure that the admission of foreign workers to work in the United States on a permanent or temporary basis will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages and working conditions of American workers,” the agency said.
All three former Trump models alleged in the news report that they did not have proper work visas.