Broadcast News Outlets Ignored Trump Modeling Agency's Employment Of Immigrants With Improper Visas

Broadcast network news programs have ignored allegations that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here,” as detailed in an August 30 Mother Jones report. The morning, evening, and Sunday news programs on CBS, NBC, and ABC have not reported on the allegations, even after Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called for an investigation into the model management company.

Mother Jones Report Outlines Trump Modeling Agency’s Use Of Immigrants With Improper Visas

Mother Jones: Trump Model Management “Has Profited From Using Foreign Models Who Came To The United States On Tourist Visas That Did Not Permit Them To Work Here.” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, used workers who were in the United States on tourist visas, not work visas, in violation of immigration law, “according to three former Trump models, all noncitizens.” Two of the models said Trump’s agency had encouraged them to lie to customs officials. The Mother Jones report highlighted the stories of multiple Trump agency models who worked under improper visas for Trump:

Republican nominee Donald Trump has placed immigration at the core of his presidential campaign. He has claimed that undocumented immigrants are “taking our jobs” and “taking our money,” pledged to deport them en masse, and vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border. At one point he demanded a ban on Muslims entering the country. Speaking to supporters in Iowa on Saturday, Trump said he would crack down on visitors to the United States who overstay their visas and declared that when any American citizen “loses their job to an illegal immigrant, the rights of that American citizen have been violated.” And he is scheduled to give a major address on immigration in Arizona on Wednesday night.

But the mogul's New York modeling agency, Trump Model Management, has profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here, according to three former Trump models, all noncitizens, who shared their stories with Mother Jones. Financial and immigration records included in a recent lawsuit filed by a fourth former Trump model show that she, too, worked for Trump's agency in the United States without a proper visa.

Foreigners who visit the United States as tourists are generally not permitted to engage in any sort of employment unless they obtain a special visa, a process that typically entails an employer applying for approval on behalf of a prospective employee. Employers risk fines and possible criminal charges for using undocumented labor.

Founded in 1999, Trump Model Management “has risen to the top of the fashion market,” boasts the Trump Organization's website, and has a name “that symbolizes success.” According to a financial disclosure filed by his campaign in May, Donald Trump earned nearly $2 million from the company, in which he holds an 85 percent stake. Meanwhile, some former Trump models say they barely made any money working for the agency because of the high fees for rent and other expenses that were charged by the company.


According to three immigration lawyers consulted by Mother Jones, even unpaid employment is against the law for foreign nationals who do not have a work visa. “If the US company is benefiting from that person, that's work,” explained Anastasia Tonello, global head of the US immigration team at Laura Devine Attorneys in New York. These rules for immigrants are in place to “protect them from being exploited,” she said. “That US company shouldn't be making money off you.”

Two of the former Trump models said Trump's agency encouraged them to deceive customs officials about why they were visiting the United States and told them to lie on customs forms about where they intended to live. Anna said she received a specific instruction from a Trump agency representative: “If they ask you any questions, you're just here for meetings.” [Mother Jones, 8/30/16]

Sen. Barbara Boxer Called For An Investigation Into Trump Modeling Agency’s Employment Of Immigrants With Improper Visas. Politico reported that Sen. Barbara Boxer “called on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to open an investigation into Donald Trump’s model management company over allegations that it broke immigration laws.” [Politico, 9/7/16]

Broadcast News Outlets Failed To Cover Trump Modeling Agency’s Employment Of Workers With Improper Visas

No Broadcast Morning, Evening, Or Sunday News Shows Covered Trump Modeling Agency’s Employment Of Workers With Improper Visas. None of the morning, evening, or Sunday news shows on CBS, NBC, or ABC have covered the allegations against Trump since the release of the Mother Jones report on August 30, 2016.


Media Matters searched Nexis for coverage of Donald Trump’s modeling agency between August 30, 2016, the date when a Mother Jones report on the subject was released, and September 8, 2016, on CBS, NBC, and ABC's morning, evening, and Sunday news programs. Media Matters used the terms: “Trump w/50 model.”

Interns Olivia Stephens and Lucas Bateman contributed research to this report.