For most people who want to become citizens of the United States, a criminal record is a disqualifier, but sources say it was not an issue for Viktor Knavs, the father of Melania Trump. Donald Trump has been harsh on immigrants, saying that this country should only take the best from other countries, and not allow criminals to become citizens.
The Daily Beast says that it was Melania Trump’s biographer who discovered that Viktor Knavs had a record with the Yugoslavian police back in Slovenia. Author Igor Omerza said that when he was reading through the database of the archives of the secret police archives, Knavs name popped up as someone with a criminal record. Despite this fact, Viktor and his wife, Melania’s mother, both became naturalized U.S. citizens this year.
Viktor Knavs was listed as a person with a criminal record, being found guilty of two items in the “Yugoslav Penal Code.” Details of the crime are few, but the database indicates that it was related to “the acquisition, sale or production of goods without the explicit permission of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.”
A person convicted of those crimes faced up to 10 years in prison and also faced fines.
At a time when people are being denied U.S. citizenship because of their pasts, the case of Melania Trump's father Viktor Knavs—and his record in Yugoslavia’s secret police files—is an interesting one https://t.co/P1zHmuABWv
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) August 25, 2018
David Leopold, an immigration lawyer, says that this criminal background belonging to Mr. Knavs could have certainly stopped him from becoming a U.S. citizen if he were anyone else. Michael Wildes, the immigration lawyer for Melania Trump’s parents, said there were no strings pulled in their efforts to become American citizens.
“Mr. Knavs’s application for U.S. citizenship was properly executed and adjudicated, consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act. His naturalization process was no different than anyone else seeking citizenship in this country.”
The Daily Beast asked Wildes about the information in the Yugoslav communist records, listing a man named Viktor Knavs with the same birthdate and a daughter named Melania, and Wildes has indicated that they are different people.
The following questions were sent to Wildes:
- What were the specific charges in Yugoslavia, if any?
- Were they resolved, and if so, how?
- Were they acknowledged in Knavs’ applications for permanent residence and citizenship?
- If not, why not?
Stephanie Grisham, the spokesperson for Melania Trump, says it is not Trump’s policy to comment on her parents.
But a neighbor of the Knavs family back before Slovenian independence says that even when people were struggling, Viktor Knavs always lived well, casting suspicion.
“His wife and daughters dressed in beautiful clothes that Melania’s mother made for long hours after her work, Viktor drove a Mercedes, the family went on vacations abroad — so I am not surprised that the UDBA investigated Knavs.”