Donald Trump cannot quite decide what he thinks about the H-1B visa program, under which certain high-skilled foreign workers are permitted to work in the United States. Silicon Valley executives love it, and Silicon Valley worker bees hate it, charging that it is used to undercut domestic wages.
Because Donald Trump is a man who knows nothing about almost anything, his mind (as John B. Anderson once said of Jimmy Carter) is “like a seat cushion that bears the imprint of the last person who sat in it.” In the last debate, Trump decided, out of nowhere, that he was reversing his formerly restrictive view of the H-1B visa program, that our high-tech businesses needed those foreign workers, the domestic supply being insufficient. About five minutes later, having been informed that abruptly reversing himself on his key issue was bound to cost him a few votes — one suspects that Ann Coulter was on the verge of tears or worse — Trump announced that he was reversing his reversal.
Donald Trump, a man whose sexual insecurities are such that he feels the need to reassure the republic that his tiny little fingers are not proportional to his genitals — Lincoln versus Douglas this ain’t — and to boast in his memoirs about his sex life (“Oftentimes when I was sleeping with one of the top women in the world I would say to myself, thinking about me as a boy from Queens, ‘Can you believe what I am getting?’”), invested in beauty pageants and a modeling agency. If you are thinking that sounds like a pretty transparent ploy to put himself in the company of economically subordinate women, the fact is that his third/current wife is a former client of the Trump modeling agency, a Slovene by the name of Melanija Knavs, known to the world now as Melania Trump. The third/current Mrs. Trump came to these United States on an H-1B visa.
Being married to Donald Trump is, as it turns out, another temporary job Americans just won’t do.
The H-1B program is structured in such as way as to (theoretically, if not in practice) prevent firms from simply bringing in foreign help on the cheap to avoid paying prevailing U.S. wages. The idea is that when companies that need specialized, highly skilled workers, or those with unusual endowments, they should be able to bring them in relatively easily from abroad when they cannot locate the workers they need at home. One of the safeguards is the requirement that firms disclose the wages of their foreign workers, so that these can be compared with typical domestic wages in the field.
In the case of Alexia Palmer, a Jamaican model recruited by Trump and brought to the United States, the agency told her — and federal immigration authorities — that she would be paid $75,000 a year, a figure that seems to have been the agency’s go-to figure. Given that the “prevailing wage” was calculated at $45,000 a year, immigration authorities would not have any reason to believe that Palmer was simply being brought in to undercut domestic rivals financially.
But, in reality, she was paid about $10,000 a year on average.
Under federal law, the requirement that H-1B workers be paid what is claimed on their immigration paperwork falls either on an employer (in the case of a worker with a full-time commitment to one firm) or, as in the case of models such as Palmer, their agencies, in this case Trump Model Management. New York immigration lawyer Jeffrey Feinbloom tells CNN: “It seems pretty clear to me that there was a violation . . . and a pretty egregious violation.” That would not be surprising: The program has a long and sometimes shocking history of abuse.Trump likes to proclaim that our inability to enforce our immigration law is an existential threat, like terrorism: “Either we have a country or we don’t,” he says. When it comes to such threats, Trump’s tough-guy posturing encompasses all sorts of things: leaning on private companies and using the law to penalize them if they will not toe his line on immigration, violating the rights of U.S. citizens, and, famously, his pledging to treat the families of terrorism suspects like terrorists themselves, to be “very hard on the families.” Trump has publicly stated that — his words here — “a young and beautiful piece of ass” is a shield against all criticism. But the third/current Mrs. Trump is literally the poster girl for a modeling agency that is credibly accused of systematically abusing the very immigration laws whose robust enforcement is the purported raison d’être of his presidential campaign. If immigration abuse is an existential threat and getting tough on the families is our new national ethos, there’s only one conclusion.
Deport Melania Trump.
— Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review.