First lady Melania Trump’s parents gain US citizenship through process opposed by Donald Trump



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

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are from Slovenia, had previously been living in the U.S. as legal permanent residents with green cards.

A source familiar with the situation told Yahoo News that the Knavses received their green cards before Trump was elected and that they were sponsored by their daughter. Trump has sought to eliminate family-based sponsorship, which he calls “chain migration,” and replace it with merit-based citizenship programs.

Melania Trump became a U.S. citizen in 2006 after marrying Trump the year before.  Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, declined to comment on the Knavses’ citizenship proceedings or whether the first lady supports her husband’s efforts to limit family-based sponsorship.

The pair are close with the president and Melania Trump, and are regularly seen traveling with the first family.

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Viktor and Amalija Knavs, Melania Trump's parents
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Viktor and Amalija Knavs, Melania Trump's parents
Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of US First Lady Melania Trump, walk across the South Lawn upon return to the White House on June 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. US President Donald Trump returned to the White House after spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat with his family. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - JUNE 11: (AFP-OUT) Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, arrive at the White House with the first family June 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. According to reports, Melania and Barron Trump will soon be moving from Trump Tower in New York City to the White House. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Amalija Knavs and Viktor Knavs, parents of first lady Melania Trump walk from Marine One across the South Lawn as they return from Bedminster, N.J. at the White House in Washington, DC on Sunday, June 11, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, exit 26 Federal Plaza with immigration attorney Michael Wildes following their immigration hearing in New York City, U.S., May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, exit 26 Federal Plaza with immigration attorney Michael Wildes following their immigration hearing in New York City, U.S., May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, exit 26 Federal Plaza with immigration attorney Michael Wildes following their immigration hearing in New York City, U.S., May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, exit 26 Federal Plaza with immigration attorney Michael Wildes following their immigration hearing in New York City, U.S., May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, exit 26 Federal Plaza with immigration attorney Michael Wildes following their immigration hearing in New York City, U.S., May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, exit 26 Federal Plaza with immigration attorney Michael Wildes following their immigration hearing in New York City, U.S., May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
The parents of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, await the start of the official arrival ceremony held by U.S. President Donald Trump and Mrs. Trump for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 30: Parents of first Melania Trump, Viktor Knavs (L) and Amalija Knavs (2nd L), walk on the South Lawn prior to a Marine One departure at the White House June 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is spending the weekend with his family in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US first lady Melania Trump's parents, Viktor Knavs (L) and Amalija Knavs step off off Air Force One upon arrival in Morristown, New Jersey on June 30, 2017. Hicks is travelling with US President Donald Trump who is heading to Bedminster, New Jersey to spend the weekend at his golf club. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Viktor and Amalija made an appearance with their attorney, Michael Wildes, outside the federal building in Manhattan where they took the citizenship oath. Wildes briefly spoke to reporters and said the pair went through “a wonderful journey like most have … in getting citizenship.”

“These doors that are in America remain hinged open to beautiful people as they have today,” Wildes said, adding, “We just thank everybody for their attention to this very important dialogue that we’re having on immigration. This is an example of it going right.”

Currently, the majority of green card recipients receive them via family sponsorship. Green cards can also be obtained through employment, receiving asylum or refugee status, or in other special circumstances.

In a phone call on Thursday evening, Wildes declined to comment on whether Viktor and Amalija Knavs support President Trump’s push to curb family-based sponsorship. However, the attorney offered his own views on the matter.

“I can’t comment in order to protect their privacy. I’ve been a very staunch advocate against the president’s policies myself as an immigration lawyer,” Wildes said.

 

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