The Slovenian-born parents of Melania Trump have become US citizens at a naturalisation ceremony in New York – reportedly taking advantage of a family reunification programme President Donald Trump has vehemently denounced.
Mr Trump’s in-laws, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, took the oath of citizenship, their lawyer Michael Wildes said.
Asked if they had obtained citizenship under a programme derisively branded “chain migration” by the president, Mr Wildes replied: “I suppose.”
He said chain migration, which allows naturalised US citizens to sponsor close relatives for permanent residency, was a “dirtier” way of characterising what he called “a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification”.
Mr Trump has said the system steals jobs from Americans and threatens national security, calling for a merit-based system giving preference to more educated, English-speaking professionals. He wrote on Twitter in November: “Chain migration must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. Not acceptable!”
He frequently cites the example of Sayfullo Saipov, a naturalised immigrant from Uzbekistan who drove a rented truck down a busy bike path in New York in October, killing eight people and injuring 12, to illustrate why the family reunification programme must be ended.