On Thursday, First lady Melania Trump’s parents became ‘US citizens in a naturalization ceremony’ in New York.
News photographers captured images of the couple as they arrived at a Manhattan federal building accompanied by Department of Homeland Security officers. Wildes did not elaborate, citing the couple’s privacy. Michael Wildes, an attorney for Viktor and AmalijaKnavs, who had been living in the country as legal permanent residents after leaving their native Slovenia, confirmed that his clients took the oath of citizenship.
Wildes said,“the Knavs satisfied the requirement that permanent residents hold their green cards for five years before they can apply for U.S. citizenship. It is unclear when the Knaves first moved to the United States, but by late 2007, Viktor Knavs was listed in public records as residing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida”.
“The application, the process, the interview was no different than anybody else’s, other than the security arrangements to the facility today,” he said. “This is an example of it going right. They’re very excited.”
Trump falsely asserted in November that Uzbekistan-born Sayfullo Saipov – who had gained legal permanent residency in an annual visa lottery before allegedly killing eight people on a bike path in New York – had brought nearly two dozen relatives into the country on family visas. Saipov has pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for next year.
“We want to get rid of chain migration,” Trump said at the time.
The Senate defeated several immigration bills in the spring, including one that included the proposals backed by Trump. A spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who sponsored that bill, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did spokespeople for Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Okla., who have authored similar legislative proposals.
Critics said the Knavs’ ability to secure green cards and citizenship smacks of hypocrisy given the president’s hard-line immigration stance.
“This is the most anti-immigration administration probably in the history of the country except when it comes to this family, and the hypocrisy is just stunning,” said David Leopold, an immigration attorney in Cleveland. “He and his administration are on a crusade to rid the country of immigrants, particularly immigrants of color. What can you say when the first lady and her family have such an easy time?”
A White House spokesman declined to comment when asked about the criticism Thursday. The president is on a working vacation this week at his private resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.