Melania Trump's parents' immigration status could be thanks to 'chain migration'

The Slovenian parents of ...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 12:26 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 12:26 AM

The Slovenian parents of first lady Melania Trump are legal permanent residents of the United States, according to the lawyer representing them in the process -- raising questions about whether they are living in the US by the very means President Donald Trump has strongly criticized and sought to end.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs have been living in the United States with green cards and have been frequently spotted in Washington since their son-in-law assumed the presidency.

The Knavs' immigration attorney, Michael Wildes, told CNN that as of February, the couple are living in the US on green cards -- a status that allows them to live and work in the US indefinitely and paves the way for citizenship.

"I can confirm they are green card holders and legal permanent residents of the United States," he said. Wildes did not explain how they got those green cards, raising the prospect they were sponsored based on what Trump has called "chain migration."

The Washington Post first reported the Knavs' immigration status.

There are only a handful of ways that immigrants to the US can obtain green cards, and the largest share of them each year are given out based on familial connections. A smaller number go to immigrants based on their employment, and other categories include refugees and other special cases. Advocates for restricting legal immigration have pointed to the imbalance in favor of family connections as evidence of the need for reform, calling for a "merit-based" system that would choose immigrants based on need in the US.

Wildes declined to comment on whether the first lady's parents will soon be sworn in as citizens or the method through which the Knavs obtained their green card status. The Washington Post cited a person with knowledge of the couple's immigration status as stating they are awaiting a date for their swearing-in ceremony. In order to become citizens, legal permanent residents must live in the United States continuously and hold their green cards for at least five years.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, 73 and 71 years old, respectively, are retired, and they maintain regular contact with the Trump family, often traveling with the first family on trips to Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster, New Jersey.

They have also been seen at the White House, where in November they sat next to Ivanka Trump in the front row to witness Trump's first White House Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony. On New Year's Eve, dressed in black-tie formal wear, the Knavs walked the red carpet on their way into the New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago.

A spokeswoman for the first lady declined to comment on the Knavs' immigration status, saying since they are not officially part of the administration, they deserve their privacy. The Department of Homeland Security said privacy laws prohibit it from discussing individual cases.

The likelihood that the Knavs could have been sponsored by Melania Trump or another family member raises the issue of what the President has called "chain migration," or family-based migration.

The US allows a number of ways for US citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor family members to come to the US permanently, including categories for parents, adult siblings and adult children, married and unmarried.

Trump and his congressional allies have fought to slash that dramatically, limiting sponsorship to spouses and minor children, including dropping the threshold for minor children from 21 to 18. Experts estimate that could cut overall immigration to the US by 40% to 50%, if those green cards are not reallocated to another category. Trump has advocated a "merit-based" system, but has not proposed any method of admitting immigrants to the US to replace those categories.

The President's insistence that the cuts to family-based migration be included in a deal to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children was an insurmountable sticking point in negotiations when the Senate failed to reach a compromise on the issue last week.

West Lafayette
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: °
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 52°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 48°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: °
Williamsport
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 48°
Crawfordsville
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 46°
Frankfort
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 46°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 50°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 50°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 50°
Warming up with plenty of sunshine!
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events