Melania Trump’s parents are officially US citizens, ABC News reports. But their path to citizenship may contain a process that has been slammed by their son-in-law, President Donald Trump.
According to ABC, Donald Trump’s in-laws, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, most likely used a process that he has called “chain migration” to get their green cards. With chain migration, parents of a U.S citizen, in this case, Melania Trump, can obtain a green card if they’re sponsored by said citizen.
“The most obvious way that they would have become green card holders is by being the parents of a U.S. citizen – i.e. Melania Trump,” an immigration professor at Cornell Law School, Stephen Yale-Loehr, said in an interview with ABC.
Their lawyer, Michael Wildes, said that Melania’s parents “applied on their own” when he was pressed on whether the first lady sponsored them
Back in February, The Washington Post reported that the Knavses had been granted permanent residency and there was a belief that the first lady had sponsored family green cards for them. As the Post notes, usually permanent legal residents have to hold off from applying for citizenship for five years.
The Knavses’ personal lawyer assured the press that they received no special treatment during the citizenship process and that they followed the same rules that all applicants follow.
“The application, the process, the interview was no different than anybody else’s, other than the security arrangements to (sic) facility today,” Wildes said.
Donald Trump has previously made claims that he plans to overhaul the immigration process, with a particular focus on restricting sponsorship for foreign relatives.
As The LA Times reports, Donald Trump said that the end of chain migration was one of the pillars of his four-pillared plan for immigration reform, during his State Of The Union address. He went to add that the process enables one person to “bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”
“This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future,” he said during the speech.
The LA Times notes that current immigration rules limit green card sponsorships to spouses and children if the sponsor is only a green card holder and not a citizen. Trump has previously linked the 2017 Halloween terrorist attack, committed by Uzbekistani Sayfullo Saipov, to chain migration. The president claimed that he sponsored over 20 green cards for his relatives but the law does not allow that.
“CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil,” Trump tweeted after Saipov’s arrest.
On social media, people pointed out the difference between Melania’s citizenship process and the way that asylum seekers have been treated at the border. The Trump administration has come under fire for their policy of family separation, which ripped kids from their parents. President Trump technically ended the process with an executive order but it has caused a domino effect of problems that experts predict will take years to resolve.