President Trump’s in-laws are now U.S. citizens, thanks to the sponsorship of their daughter, First Lady Melania Trump — a process that the Trump administration has tried to end.
This Thursday, Viktor and Amalija Knavs were granted citizenship Thursday according to an announcement from their immigration lawyer, Michael Wildes.
“It went well and they are very grateful and appreciative of this wonderful day for their family,” he told CNN.
A source with direct knowledge of Melania Trump’s parents and their immigration status told CNN that Melania Trump sponsored her parents for their green cards, a status that allowed them to live and work in the US indefinitely and paved the way for citizenship. 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.
The first lady’s office declined to comment.
Wildes was critical of President Trump’s immigration policies while speaking to CNN, saying that he believes strongly in “the principles of family reunification,” adding that it’s “a bedrock of immigration policy and law and has brought millions of people happily to our shores.”
“I can’t comment on the President’s politics when it comes to my clients but I have stood up against the President’s immigration policies personally,” he said.
There are a number of ways for U.S. citizens to and legal residents to sponsor family members for permanent residency, but the Trump administration has been cracking down on those options by limiting sponsorship to spouses and children who are minors. As CNN points out, experts say the Trump crackdown could cut overall immigration to the U.S. by 40 to 50 percent.
In February, The Washington Post reported that the Knavses had gained legal permanent residency and that legal experts believed they had their applications for family-based green cards sponsored by the First Lady. But according to Wildes, the Knavses received no special treatment due to their relationship to the Trump family.
“The application, the process, the interview was no different than anybody else’s, other than the security arrangements to facility today,” he said. “This is an example of it going right. They’re very excited.”
Critics say that the Knavses newly acquired citizenship highlights the rank hypocrisy of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
“This is the most anti-immigration administration probably in history of the country except when it comes to this family, and the hypocrisy is just stunning,” immigration attorney David Leopold told The Washington Post.
“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?”
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