President Donald Trump should have been moved this week when our nation of immigrants accepted two new Americans: first lady Melania Trump’s parents, Amalia and Viktor Knavs. But their path to citizenship likely goes against everything their son-in-law supposedly believes in.
The Knavs were sworn in as U.S. citizens on Thursday in Lower Manhattan, The New York Times reported. Melania Trump, originally from Slovenia, sponsored her parents so they could obtain a green card before applying for U.S. citizenship. The first lady herself was granted citizenship in 2006.
“It went well and they are very grateful and appreciative of this wonderful day for their family,” the Knavs’ lawyer, Michael Wildes, said in a statement.
When the Times asked Wildes if the Knavs obtained their citizenship through family-based immigration ― often pejoratively referred to as “chain migration” ― Wildes was vague.
“I suppose,” he told the publication. “It’s a dirty ― a dirtier word. It stands for a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification.”
The idea that family-based immigration could be labeled as “dirty” might have a lot to do with the Knavs’ son-in-law. In November, Trump railed against the process on Twitter.
“CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!” he tweeted. “Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”
Last December, when a legal U.S. resident from Bangladesh attempted an ISIS-inspired bombing in New York City, Trump blamed “chain migration” in part, saying there needed to be restrictions. He argued, without evidence, that “chain migration” lets in suspect people.
But as HuffPost’s Roque Planas has pointed out, Trump has personally benefited time and again from the very process he rails against. His ancestors followed family members to the U.S., his Miss Universe business attracted top candidates by agreeing to help obtain green cards or work authorization for their families, and his parents-in-law are likely citizens because of it.
“It’s hard to find talent,” Wildes told HuffPost at the time regarding Miss Universe contestants. “And when they find talent, they generally want to negotiate family members to make sure their lives are more robust and meaningful. … Say we’re soliciting a visa for somebody and that person says, ‘I’m only going to come if you sponsor a visa for myself and green cards for my whole family so I can resettle here.’”
Congratulations are in order for the Knavs. Hopefully, their citizenship will inspire their son-in-law to better appreciate the rich, continued diversity that new immigrants bring to the U.S. But that seems unlikely.