First lady Melania Trump’s parents have become US citizens after taking the citizenship oath during a ceremony on Thursday.
A lawyer for Viktor and Amalija Knavs revealed the Slovenian couple, who had already been living in the US as permanent residents, took the citizenship oath in New York City.
They came and went from the ceremony at a Manhattan federal building flanked by Homeland Security police.
There has been speculation that the President Donald Trump’s in-laws may have benefited from the “chain migration” process that he has claimed endangers Americans and vowed to restrict.
According to experts, there are two main ways the First Lady’s parents could have achieved citizenship status – either through sponsorship from their daughter or an employer.
The latter is unlikely, since applicants must prove they could do a job no other American could.
Mr Knavs, who at 74, is two years older than Mr Trump, is thought to have worked as a car dealer while Mrs Knavs, 73, worked in a textile factory. Both are now believed to be retired.
Mr Trump has been a repeated critic of what he calls “chain migration”, where immigrants can bring relatives into America after moving themselves.
Under the current rules, US citizens can sponsor their parents and siblings to get legal residency in the country. Mr Trump has called it a "broken system" and wants to limit the rules to just spouses and young children.
The Knavses raised Melania in the rural industrial town of Sevnica while Slovenia was under Communist rule. The first lady, born Melanija, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modeling. She settled in New York in 1996 and met Mr Trump two years later.
It is unclear when Mrs Trump’s parents arrived in the US but Michael Wildes, an immigration lawyer who represents the First Lady and her family, has previously confirmed the pair were both lawfully admitted to America as permanent residents.
“The family, as they are not part of the administration, has asked that their privacy be respected, so I will not comment further on this matter,” he said
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