Melania Trump’s parents came to the U.S. thanks to immigration system Trump wants to eliminate

A lawyer for First Lady Melania Trump’s parents admitted Thursday that the couple was able to become United States citizens thanks to a program President Donald Trump has often railed against and tried to eliminate.


Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who came to the United States from Slovenia, were sworn in as U.S. citizens in New York Thursday. Asked by The New York Times if the couple benefited from family-based migration — sometimes referred to demeaningly as “chain migration” — their lawyer said, “I suppose. It’s a dirty — a dirtier word.”


He added, “It stands for a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification.”


CNN was able to confirm Thursday that the first lady sponsored her parents in order for them to get a green card, which set them on the path to citizenship, the exact type of family-based migration President Trump has repeatedly called to eliminate.



Melania Trump sponsored her parents to obtain US green cards, a source familiar tells CNN. Today, her parents became US citizens.


— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) August 9, 2018



Last November, Trump tweeted that the practice was “NOT ACCEPTABLE.”


“CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!” he tweeted along with a video of him further discussing the issue. “Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”



CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE! pic.twitter.com/PQGeTTdRtX


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017



One example Trump often uses to explain why he believes family-based migration should be eliminated, as the Times noted Thursday, is that of Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan who drove a truck down a bike lane last fall and killed eight people in downtown New York.


“He said, ‘Hey look, there’s people, nice people, they’re relaxing, some are jogging,’” Trump said at a recent rally in Pennsylvania. “He decides to kill them. They lost arms. They lost limbs. They lost so much. They lost their life. But they lost so much. So, we have to change this and we’re going to change it.”


Saipov did not, however, even come to the U.S. via the family-based migration system. He came to the U.S. as part of the diversity lottery.