Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is asking the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to investigate Donald Trump’s modeling agency, after an expose on Trump Model Management found several alleged violations of labor and immigration laws.
“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,” Boxer wrote Wednesday in a letter to USCIS head León Rodríguez.
The Mother Jones report interviewed three foreign ex-Trump models who all claimed they worked for the GOP nominee’s agency in the U.S. without proper work visas. Two models even told the liberal-leaning outlet that they had received instructions from the company to mislead customs officials about what they were doing in the country. Documents from a fourth former Trump model’s lawsuit also showed she had worked for the agency without the necessary paperwork.
In addition to the immigration violations, the Mother Jones article detailed some of the cramped living quarters the agency housed its models in. One model told the news outlet that their “apartment was like a sweatshop,” with up to 11 people occupying a two-bedroom space at a time.
Boxer, who also sent the letter to Labor Secretary Tom Perez, wrote to USCIS: “I hope you will make clear that immigration and labor violations like these will not be tolerated.”
The modeling agency, founded in 1999, brought in revenues of about two million dollars last year for Trump, who has an 85 percent stake in the company, according to a personal financial disclosure form the candidate filed with the Federal Elections Commission earlier this year.
Separately, the GOP nominee’s current wife, Melania Trump, has also faced close scrutiny for her immigration status during her career as a model in the mid-1990s, when she made comments about obtaining fashion gigs in the U.S. that seemed inconsistent with proper work visas practices.
“I never thought to stay here without papers,” the ex-model told MSNBC earlier this year. “I traveled every few months back to the country to Slovenia to stamp the visa.” The process Melania Trump described, however, applies to visitor visas that would not have allowed her to work in the U.S. at the time. Mrs. Trump maintains that she had “at all times been in compliance with the immigration laws” of the U.S., according to a statement obtained by Politico.
The GOP nominee has spent much of his presidential campaign advocating a hardline immigration policy, even proposing to deport any violators of current immigration laws.
Boxer implicitly criticized Trump for a disparity between his policies versus his company’s practices, snarking on Twitter last month that “apparently Trump never built a wall to keep foreign models from working illegally”: