Melania's Parents Under Scrutiny As Trump Blasts 'Chain Migration'

How did Viktor and Amalija Knavs come to gain legal residency in the US?
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2018 7:57 AM CST
Did First Lady's Parents Get Here Via 'Chain Migration'?
Amalija Knavs, left, and Viktor Knavs, parents of first lady Melania Trump, walk on the South Lawn as they arrive with President Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the White House in Washington on June 18, 2017.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Trump has railed against so-called "chain migration"—more commonly called family reunification, the visa process by which green card holders or legal residents in the US can bring family members over from their home countries, per NPR—but now the focus is turning to how the first lady's parents came to the US. Viktor and Amalija Knavs now have legal permanent residency here, reports the New York Times, and they're "close to obtaining their citizenship," sources tell the Washington Post, which notes that permanent residents usually need to wait five years before they can become naturalized. Both their immigration lawyer and a spokesperson for Melania Trump declined to offer details on how and when they became lawful US residents, citing their "privacy."

Under the process currently in place, an American citizen can apply to have his or her parents, siblings, and adult married kids come to the US; Trump wants to restrict that to just parents and children under the age of 21. Melania's parents may have come in via an investment or work visa, but experts say sponsorship by Melania, who became a US citizen in 2006, would have been the easiest way to bring her parents over from Slovenia. "That would be the logical way to do it, the preferred way to do it, and possibly the only way to do it under the facts that I know," an immigration attorney tells the Post. And it's also "fairly routine," a UCLA immigration law professor notes to the Times, adding that "it only becomes sensitive if her husband is taking a position against this." Questions have also arisen in the past about Melania's own transition from immigrant to US citizen. (Read more Melania Trump stories.)

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