President Donald Trump’s in-laws became American citizens Thursday, raising questions about whether they used an immigration program the president is seeking to scuttle to achieve American citizenship.
Immigration attorney Michael Wildes confirmed Viktor and Amalija Knavs, Melania Trump’s parents, were sworn in during a brief private naturalization ceremony in Manhattan.
“We just thank everybody for their attention to this very important dialogue that we’re having on immigration,” Wildes said. “This is a very important example of it going right.”
Wildes confirmed in February that the couple were permanent U.S. residents.
Asked after Thursday’s ceremony if the Knavs’, who are from Slovenia, used so-called “chain migration,” or immigration to the U.S. based on a familial relation, to receive their citizenship, Wildes said “I suppose. It’s a dirty — a dirtier word,” according to the New York Times.
“It stands for a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification,” Wildes said.
That “bedrock” has been a focus of the president’s ire.
Trump has repeatedly called for the program to be ended on national security grounds, saying it is a “disaster” and seeking to limit individuals who can become citizens based on a familial relation to spouses and minor children.
“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump said during his State of the Union address in January.
First lady Melania Trump’s office did not immediately respond to Anadolu Agency’s request for comment.