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As Donald Trump prepares to deliver a major speech on immigration – one of the key issues since the launch of his campaign – former models have accused the New York businessman of running a “twisted” mannequins and circumvent US regulations to get them into the country. to work.

According to a report by Mother Jones magazine.

“Honestly, this is the most twisted agency I’ve ever worked for, and I’ve worked for several,” said Rachel Blais, 31, a Canadian model who worked for the agency between 2004 and 2007.

Ms Blais, along with two other women who worked for Trump Model Management, said they had been brought to the United States on tourist visas, which did not give them proper clearance to work in the country.

Foreigners visiting the United States are prohibited from participating in paid and unpaid work unless they obtain a special work visa. Employers are required to seek approval from potential employees entering the country to receive this type of work authorization. Trump’s company wouldn’t have done it.

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To be able to work legally in the United States, women would have had to obtain H1-B visas, which Mr Trump has pledged to end if he becomes president.

“The H-1B program is neither highly skilled nor immigrant: it’s temporary foreign workers, brought in from overseas, for the explicit purpose of replacing lower-wage American workers,” the former star of reality show in a statement in March.

“I will forever end the use of H-1B as a cheap labor program and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

Additionally, the women said they were forced to live in squalor, according to the report.

The models were cordoned off to live in a crowded apartment in New York’s East Village, they claimed. The bedrooms were said to contain multiple bunk beds, for which models paid $1,600 each – well above market value in 2004. (A studio at the time cost $1,375 on average.)

Ms Blais said the small three-bedroom apartment she shared with other models housed up to 11 people at a time.

“We’re hoarded in these little spaces,” said a former model who identified herself only as “Kate.” “The apartment was like a sweatshop.

A spokesperson for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Mr. Trump’s record of hiring documented and undocumented foreign labor clashed with his apparent stance against such practices during the campaign trail.

Although he denounces the taking of American jobs by foreign workers, the New York Times found that, of 300 American workers who applied for jobs at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, since 2010, only 17 were hired. The rest of the jobs went to foreign guest workers.

According to Labor Department figures, Mr. Trump has applied for more than 500 guest worker visas for the resort.

“The only reason [US-born applicants] wouldn’t get a call back, they weren’t qualified, for whatever reason,” Mr. Times. “There are very few qualified people during the high season in the region.”