First lady Melania Trump’s parents gain U.S. citizenship through process opposed by Donald Trump

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WASHINGTON— Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of first lady Melania Trump, were granted U.S. citizenship on Thursday through a process President Trump wants to eliminate.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are from Slovenia, had previously been living in the U.S. as legal permanent residents with green cards.

A source familiar with the situation told Yahoo News that the Knavses received their green cards before Trump was elected and that they were sponsored by their daughter. Trump has sought to eliminate family-based sponsorship, which he calls “chain migration,” and replace it with merit-based citizenship programs.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs listen as their attorney makes a statement in New York, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. First lady Melania Trump’s parents have been sworn in as U.S. citizens. A lawyer for the Knavs says the Slovenian couple took the citizenship oath on Thursday in New York City. They had been living in the U.S. as permanent residents. (Photo: Seth Wenig/AP)

Melania Trump became a U.S. citizen in 2006 after marrying Trump the year before. Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, declined to comment on the Knavses’ citizenship proceedings or whether the first lady supports her husband’s efforts to limit family-based sponsorship.

The pair are close with the president and Melania Trump, and are regularly seen traveling with the first family.

Viktor and Amalija made an appearance with their attorney, Michael Wildes, outside the federal building in Manhattan where they took the citizenship oath. Wildes briefly spoke to reporters and said the pair went through “a wonderful journey like most have … in getting citizenship.”

“These doors that are in America remain hinged open to beautiful people as they have today,” Wildes said, adding, “We just thank everybody for their attention to this very important dialogue that we’re having on immigration. This is an example of it going right.”

Currently, the majority of green card recipients receive them via family sponsorship. Green cards can also be obtained through employment, receiving asylum or refugee status, or in other special circumstances.

In a phone call on Thursday evening, Wildes declined to comment on whether Viktor and Amalija Knavs support President Trump’s push to curb family-based sponsorship. However, the attorney offered his own views on the matter.

“I can’t comment in order to protect their privacy. I’ve been a very staunch advocate against the president’s policies myself as an immigration lawyer,” Wildes said.