It’s a given that Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant screed of a speech was more of the same garbage he has regularly delivered to his xenophobic base since the day he announced his candidacy back in June 2015.
By now, we know Trump’s word isn’t exactly reliable. However, just as his actions toward people of color tell the story of a hardcore racist, Trump’s actions toward undocumented immigrants tell the story of Trump’s attitude toward undocumented immigrants.
As reported by Mother Jones, Trump Model Management regularly hired models who were undocumented immigrants.
Through the stories of Rachel Blais and two more anonymous women, referred to in the article as Anna and Kate, we see a pattern of behavior in Trump Model Management that runs contrary to Trump’s attempt to brand himself as the “law and order candidate.” Trump’s modelling agency often hired foreign aspiring models who were in the U.S. on tourist visas. The agency provided the models with stories to tell Customs officials should they ask questions. In true sweatshop form, the agency charged inflated and questionable fees, to eat up most or all of the models’ incomes.
For a cot in a small room with five other people, Trump Model Management charged the women $1600 a month. But Trump had these models right where he wanted them as reflected in “Anna’s” observations.
Each of the three former Trump models said she arrived in New York with dreams of making it big in one of the world’s most competitive fashion markets. But without work visas, they lived in constant fear of getting caught. “I was pretty on edge most of the time I was there,” Anna said of the three months in 2009 she spent in New York working for Trump’s agency.
Employees living in fear of the consequences that come with working illegally don’t ask questions, nor do they complain about living in a sweatshop environment.
If there’s any doubt about Trump Model Management’s complicity, one need only read the letter Trump Model Management’s lawyer, Eric Bland wrote to Rachel Blais on September 21, 2004.
The fact that Trump Model Management acquired the H1B3 visa on Blais’ behalf means they knew that she was working illegally.
Then there’s the “advice” two former Trump models were given if questioned by Customs.
Anna and Kate said the company coached them on how to circumvent immigration laws. Kate recalled being told, “When you’re stuck at immigration, say that you’re coming as a tourist. If they go through your luggage and they find your portfolio, tell them that you’re going there to look for an agent.
When the models asked questions, Trump Model Management dodged, with vague promises of rectifying the situation eventually. Eventually only came if the models “earned” the coveted H1B3 visa, the costs of which were deducted from their pay.
In a pattern all too familiar to anyone who worked for Donald Trump, undocumented Trump models had little to show for their work.
Rachel Blais was paid a total of $8,427.35 for the three years she worked for Trump Model management.
Incidentally, hiring people who are not allowed to work in the U.S. is a violation of the law that can result in fines up to $16,000 per employee in some cases, six months in prison.
This is a standard practice in the industry which would explain the gaps in former model, Melania Trump’s immigration story.
Trump’s tendency to exploit undocumented immigrants is not limited to models.
Trump Tower was built by undocumented workers.
According to testimony in a protracted civil suit in federal court, the laborers were paid $5 an hour or less when they were paid at all. Some went unpaid after the contractor had financial troubles. A few never received even the paltry sum that was owed them for their dirty and hazardous efforts preceding the construction of Trump’s monument to his own wealth.
The common element between Trump’s models and the people who built Trump Tower doesn’t end with the fact that Trump knew they were undocumented. He exploited them knowing full well that fear is more powerful than any gag order. The fear of deportation assured Trump he could stiff them without consequence and subject these human beings to sub-human working conditions.
Considering Trump’s history of exploiting fear for profit, it’s no surprise that he continues to exploit fear, couple with bigotry to con his way to the White House.
However, Trump’s history with undocumented workers proves the real criminals are the predators that knowingly “hire” undocumented workers under conditions that are more consistent with slavery than employment.