Melania Trump's parents are sworn in as US citizens
10 August, 2018, 11:02 | Author: Conrad Doyle
The ceremony has prompted questions about Donald Trump's flagrant disregard for practising what he preaches, as the First Lady's parents obtained citizenship through a policy he has vocally denounced.
Michael Wildes, the attorney for the first lady's parents Viktor and Amalija Knavs, told The New York Times on Thursday that their daughter had sponsored them for a green card, and that they applied for citizenship once they were eligible.
Under immigration law, Melania Trump's parents would need to have possessed green cards for at least five years before they could apply for citizenship.
Their lawyer said the couple had met the five-year requirement, but added, "I can't give further comment".
President Donald Trump has always been a vocal critic of "chain migration", or the process of giving relatives of naturalized citizens legal status due to their family connections. Trump has advocated a "merit-based" system, but has not proposed any method of admitting immigrants to the U.S. to replace those categories.
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There are only a handful of ways that immigrants to the United States can obtain green cards, and the largest share of them each year are given out based on familial connections.
The president proposed replacing most family-based immigration with a skills-based system after an attempted bombing by a Bangladeshi immigrant in NY last December.
The AP writes that arriving at the ceremony, the Knavses "slipped in and out of a side entrance at a Manhattan federal building flanked by Department of Homeland Security police".
The 48-year-old first lady, born Melanija, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modeling.
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Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are from Slovenia, had been living in the United States with green cards and have been frequently spotted in Washington since their son-in-law assumed the presidency.
When asked if the couple became citizens through chain migration, Wildes replied, "I suppose". According to news reports, Melania came to the USA in 2001 on a so-called Einstein visa for "individuals of extraordinary ability" as a model.
The Knavs' immigration attorney accompanied the couple to the ceremony.
Mr Knavs, who at 74, is two years older than Mr Trump, is thought to have worked as a vehicle dealer while Mrs Knavs, 73, worked in a textile factory.
The Knavses' lawyer said their ceremony was kept private for "security reasons".
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The Knavses, both in their 70s, raised Melania Trump in Sevnica, a Slovenian town of around 4,500 people.
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