First Lady's Parents Become U.S. Citizens Thanks To 'Chain Migration'

Melania Trump's parents are sworn in as U.S. citizens

President Donald Trump has repeatedly and vehemently denounced what he calls "chain migration", in which adult U.S. citizens can obtain residency for their relatives.

Melania Trump's Slovenian-born parents have become U.S. citizens at a naturalisation ceremony in NY.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, formerly of Slovenia, wore suits and sunglasses as they entered 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan just before noon, flanked by their lawyer and federal police.

Mr Knavs is 74, two years older than President Donald Trump.

The president in January proposed ending most family-based immigration and replacing it with a skills-based system. "This is a very important example of it going right".

Security guards and US Citizenship and Immigration Services workers in offices adorned with Donald Trump's portrait said they were unaware of anyone being sworn in there on Thursday.

There are only a handful of ways that immigrants to the USA can obtain green cards, and the largest share of them each year are given out based on familial connections.

Canada has a MERIT-BASED system, while the U.S. prioritizes more FAMILY-based immigration.

More news: Mothers of 11 Kids Found at 'Filthy' New Mexico Compound Are Arrested

It's unclear when they obtained their green cards, but usually, permanent residents have to hold green cards for five years before applying for citizenship. The Slovenian immigrants, a former auto dealer and textile factory worker, had been living in the USA as permanent residents.

Typically, naturalisation ceremonies at 26 Federal Plaza are large events, where groups of immigrants are sworn in as citizens en masse, after reciting an oath and the Pledge of Allegiance.

The first lady, born Melanija, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modelling. But the Knavses' lawyer said their ceremony was kept private for "security reasons".

The Knavses raised Mrs Trump in the rural industrial town of Sevnica while Slovenia was under Communist rule.

Mr Knavs, who at 74, is two years older than Mr Trump, is thought to have worked as a auto dealer while Mrs Knavs, 73, worked in a textile factory.

On Thursday, the president and first lady were vacationing at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, New Jersey, and she did not accompany her parents to the ceremony.

According to The New York Times, Mr Wildes labelled family-based migration "a bedrock of our immigration process", and when asked if the pair had gained citizenship through the system, he reportedly replied: "I suppose".

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