Meet the newest U.S. citizens: Melania Trump's parents

Brenda Watkins
August 10, 2018

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of first lady Melania Trump, were granted USA citizenship on Thursday through a process President Trump wants to eliminate.

"This golden experiment, these doors that are in America, remain hinged open to attractive people as they have today", Wildes said after the ceremony.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly and vehemently denounced what he calls "chain migration", in which adult USA citizens can obtain residency for their relatives.

Tweeting on November 2, 2017, he said: "CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!"

Amid a bitter debate over immigration - particularly the Trump administration's separation of children from families crossing the border illegally - Wildes said the Knavses' attaining citizenship was "an example of it going right".

The first lady was not present for the ceremony, and her parents told their lawyer she was in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president spends time in the summer at Trump National Golf Club.

Ms Grisham directed further questions concerning the president's views on immigration - and the immigration status of his in-laws - to the West Wing, which did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls requesting comment.

President Trump has railed against family-based or "chain" immigration in the past.

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The US allows a number of ways for US citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor family members to come to the US permanently, including categories for parents, adult siblings and adult children, married and unmarried. He also called for eliminating a visa lottery program for people from countries underrepresented in the US.

Wildes wouldn't say how long the Knavses have lived in the US.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs had been living in the U.S. as permanent residents.

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.

The Knavses' citizenship ceremony was kept hush-hush around the Jacob K Javits Federal Building.

She settled in NY in 1996 and met Trump two years later.

The Knavses raised Melania in the rural industrial town of Sevnica while Slovenia was under Communist rule.

Melania Trump became a US citizen in 2006 after marrying Trump the year before.

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