Michael Wildes, the immigration lawyer representing first lady Melania Trump and her parents, contends that they were given no special treatment in their process to become U.S. citizens.
“They were treated like no other different person, and it’s just the politics of the day unfortunately,” Wildes told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton in an interview that aired on Tuesday.
“The dialogue has deteriorated on immigration, and it’s our job as lawyers who toil in the fields — and I’m a second-generation immigration lawyer — to make sure the government is pointed in the right direction,” he added.
The attorney, who is a self-professed Democrat, said it took “years” for both Trump and her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, to become permanent residents.
He said the process was two-fold.
“In Melania Trump’s case, it took years for her to become an American citizen, then years for her to petition for her family and they went through the process, passing all of the American citizenship questions and everything just like any other person,” Wildes said.
Earlier this month, Wildes announced that the Knavs officially became U.S. citizens through a process known as family-based migration — an immigration process President Trump wants to change.
Even though his own in-laws were able to become citizens through the process, Trump has repeatedly denounced what he calls “chain migration,” claiming it brings “virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives” into the United States.
But Wildes argues that this claim is not true, saying U.S. citizens can only petition for immediate family members like parents, and even this process can be fraught with challenges.
Wildes estimated that for siblings it can take “at least 10 to 15 years depending on the quotas coming from different countries.”
Still, he praised family-based migration, calling it a “beautiful” practice.
“What’s known as ‘chain migration’ in the derogatory is actually a beautiful theory and philosophy that families will actually work harder and love more and do more for the United States if they’re able to come together,” Wildes told Hill.TV.
— Tess Bonn
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