NEW YORK — The parents of first lady Melania Trump are now legal permanent residents of the United States — a status they likely achieved through “chain migration,” a process President Donald Trump has derided and proposed ending, experts on immigration say.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs have obtained their green cards, though their attorney has declined to indicate how or when they did so, The Washington Post reported.

“I can confirm that Mrs. Trump’s parents are both lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents,” their attorney, Michael Wildes, told the Post. “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.

The Knavses are believed to have relied on the family reunification process that allows U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents and siblings for legal residency in the U.S.

It’s a policy Trump called a threat to Americans’ security and quality of life in last month’s State of the Union address.

He has proposed only allowing spouses and minor children to be sponsored for legal residency.


But immigration experts say that Melania Trump likely sponsored her parents for residency in the United States.

It’s one of two paths the Knavses could have taken. The other — getting sponsored by an employer — is unlikely, New York-based immigration lawyer Matthew Kolken told the Post.

The Knavses would have had to show that no Americans could perform the job for which they were pursued.

Both of the first lady’s parents are reportedly retired.

Viktor Knavs, 73, reportedly worked as a chauffeur and car salesman in Slovenia. Amalija Knavs, now 71, worked as a pattern maker at a textile factory.

Immigration layer David Leopold said that Melania’s sponsorship of her parents likely allowed them to obtain green cards.


“That would be the logical way to do it, the preferred way to do it and possibly the only way to do it under the facts that I know,” Leopold told the Post.

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 30, Trump blasted “the current broken system” for allowing a single immigrant to “bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

“Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future,” he said.

He reiterated his stance in a Feb. 6 tweet.

“We need a 21st Century MERIT-BASED immigration system,” he tweeted. “Chain migration and the visa lottery are outdated programs that hurt our economic and national security.”

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