The parents of First Lady Melania Trump most likely used the family reunification process known as “chain migration” on their path to becoming legal residents in the United States, according to a new report.
The Washington Post reports that Viktor and Amalija Knavs, Melania Trump’s parents, “very likely” relied on the chain migration program to obtain green cards. The two are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to the newspaper.
“Chain migration” is a program where U.S. citizens and permanent residents are allowed to sponsor close non-citizen family members for a green card.
The process is a mainstay of U.S. immigration; of the 990,553 of the foreign nationals admitted to the United States as permanent residents in 2013, nearly 649,763 of them were admitted due to family ties, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics.
While the program may be popular, it is a frequent target of immigration hardliners, like Trump—who vowed to end “chain migration” during his State of the Union address earlier this year.
Under his plan, only spouses and minor children would be allowed to be sponsored, something that would have blocked his wife’s parents if they used the chain migration program.
Earlier this month Trump said on Twitter that the United States needed a “merit-based” immigration system, adding that “chain migration and the visa lottery are outdated programs that hurt our economic and national security.”
While Trump and people who have a conservative stance on chain migration may deride the program, there are several misconceptions about it.
A New York-immigration law firm attorney told the Post that there were only two likely ways that Melania Trump’s parents could have obtained green cards: if she sponsored them, or their employers sponsored them, which is unlikely. Both of her parents are retired, according to the news outlet.
You can read all of the Washington Post‘s report here.