Melania Trump’s Parents Become U.S. Citizens as Trump Administration Targets Legal Immigrants  

First Lady Melania Trump‘s parents became naturalized United States citizens on Thursday, PEOPLE confirms.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, Slovenian immigrants in their 70s, took the citizenship oath at a private ceremony in New York City, the Associated Press reported. The husband and wife — a former car dealer and a former textile factory worker, respectively — had been living in the United States as permanent residents.

The couples’ lawyer, Michael Wildes, did not specify the length of time the Knavses have been living in the United States, according to the AP. Under United States law, permanent residents must be in the country for at least five years in order to apply for citizenship.

Wildes told reporters outside a Manhattan federal building on Thursday that the Knavses’ citizenship process was “no different” from anyone else’s.

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“The dialogue we are having on immigration, this is an example of it going right,” Wildes added.

Wildes confirmed to PEOPLE that the Knavses became citizens on Thursday, but declined any further comment. The first lady’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

While President Donald Trump‘s parents-in-law were successful in obtaining citizenship, his administration is seeking to make citizenship more difficult to obtain for both undocumented and legal immigrants.

In January, Trump proposed ending most family-based immigration and replacing it with a system prioritizing skilled immigrants. He has also recently said he’s looking to terminate a visa lottery program for people from countries under-represented in the U.S. This plan would limit immigrants like the first lady to sponsoring only spouses and underage children, as opposed to parents and other adult family members.

Throughout his tenure in the White House, Trump has upheld his promise to crack down on immigration. Last month, he released memos that make denying visa applications easier. 

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The memos “are intended to further restrict and discourage much-needed legal immigration,” Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance, told AXIOS. “This abrupt change in policy will have the perverse effect of discouraging businesses from having work performed in the U.S. — a highly undesirable outcome for all workers, businesses and the economy as a whole.”

Trump has not commented on the Knavses’ citizenship.


PEOPLE.com

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