President Donald Trump's Slovenian in-laws became United States citizens yesterday through "chain migration", a programme he has repeatedly denounced, in which adult American citizens can obtain citizenship for their relatives.
Viktor and Amalija Knavs, both in their 70s, took the citizenship oath at a private ceremony in New York City.
Viktor and Amalija Knavs took the citizenship oath on August 9, their lawyer, Michael Wildes, confirmed to Fox News.
Under immigration law, Melania Trump's parents would need to have possessed green cards for at least five years before they could apply for citizenship.
The first lady's office declined to comment.
Viktor, 74, is two years older than President Trump.
"It went well and they are very grateful and appreciative of this wonderful day for their family", he said in a statement to CNN. That type of family visa is exactly one of the categories that Trump and his allies have tried to repeal, saying they are harmful to the US. He wouldn't say who sponsored their green cards.
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Trump's plan, which Congress has resisted, would limit immigrants like his wife to sponsoring only their spouses and underage children to join them in the USA, not their parents, adult children or siblings. The Knavses came and went from the ceremony at a Manhattan federal building flanked by Homeland Security police.
Although Melania started from humble roots, she launched a successful modeling career prior to her marriage to the president.
The Knavs' immigration attorney accompanied the couple to the ceremony.
When the Times asked Wildes if the Knavs obtained their citizenship through family-based immigration ― often pejoratively referred to as "chain migration" ― Wildes was vague.
The Knavses' citizenship ceremony was kept hush-hush at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building. She was in Bedminster, New Jersey, at the Trump National Golf Club, where Trump is now staying. Amalija Knavs had harvested onions on her family's farm, then worked in a textile factory, and sewed her two daughters' clothes.
The couple met in Sevnica, Slovenia in 1966, and Melania was born in the same town. Wildes called chain migration a "dirtier" way of characterizing "a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification", according to The New York Times.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News.