First Lady's Parents Become US Citizens

Sheila Mcguire
August 10, 2018

On Thursday, the president and first lady were vacationing at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, New Jersey, and she did not accompany her parents to the ceremony.

The Slovenian-born parents of Melania Trump became U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony in NY on Thursday, reportedly taking advantage of a family reunification program President Donald Trump has vehemently denounced.

Wildes said the term was a "dirtier" way of describing "a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification", the Times reported.

He maintains there should instead be a merit-based system, which prioritises professionals over relatives, and has drawn censure for his strident attacks on immigration laws and immigrants. Her husband, Donald Trump, has proposed ending most family-based immigration, which he refers to as "chain migration".

The first lady, born Melanija, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modelling. It's unclear when the Knavses obtained permanent residency in the US, the Times reports, but Wildes said they met the five year requirement.

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The Knavses slipped in and out of a side entrance at a Manhattan federal building flanked by Department of Homeland Security police.

The Knavses' lawyer said their ceremony was kept private for "security reasons". The Slovenian immigrants, a former vehicle dealer and textile factory worker, had been living in the permanent residents.

Trump hasn't commented or tweeted about his in-laws' newfound citizenship.

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.

Thomas Cioppa, New York district director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, presided over the 20-minute ceremony, Wildes said.

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Their daughter, Melania, was raised under Communist rule in the town of Sevnica where her father worked as a vehicle dealer and her mom in a textile factory. Viktor was a auto dealer.

The pair are close with the president and Melania Trump, and are regularly seen traveling with the first family.

According to news reports, she entered the country in 2001 on a so-called Einstein visa for "individuals of extraordinary ability" as a model.

She settled in NY in 1996 and met Mr. Trump two years later. Curious about the cameras, bystanders wandered over.

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