Questions have been raised about the immigration status of President Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana after their daughter, Ivanka Trump, criticized immigrant family separations during an event on Thursday in Washington D.C.
The Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which involved separating thousands of children from parents that had brought them into the country illegally, faced a serious backlash in June.
“That was a low point for me as well,” the first daughter said, speaking for the first time on the subject. “I felt very strongly about that and I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children so I would agree with that sentiment.”
Expanding on her comments, Ivanka Trump said that as “the daughter of an immigrant” she experienced these “incredibly difficult issues” in “a very emotional way” but maintained that “illegal immigration is incredibly complicated.”
“I am the daughter of an immigrant, my mother grew up in communist Czech Republic, but we are a country of laws,” the first daughter continued, talking of her mother. “She came to this country legally and we have to be very careful about incentivizing behavior that puts children at risk of being trafficked, at risk of entering this country with coyotes or making an incredibly dangerous journey alone.”
Journalist Aura Bogado of Reveal took to Twitter, pointing to Ivana Trump’s own autobiography, Raising Trump, to challenge the assertion that the president’s first wife made it to the U.S. entirely legally.
Born in the Czech Republic, as her daughter said, Ivana Trump by her own admission used a fraudulent marriage in 1971 to acquire an Austrian passport that would allow her to immigrate to Canada.
In her book, Raising Trump, @IvankaTrump’s mom Ivana explains that she entered into a fraudulent marriage in 1971 for the purpose of obtaining a passport. "We stayed married for two years to fool the government."— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) August 2, 2018
Her words; not mine. pic.twitter.com/3KrypyM4As
Once in Canada, she would regularly cross the border into the U.S. to work as a model, but remains unclear whether she acquired U.S. working permit to do so. On one such working trip, she met Trump, who proposed.
Once she made her way to Canada on a passport obtained through a fraudulent marriage, Ivana Trump began crossing the border to the United States to work. It was a quick drive from Montreal. Trump never mentions if she obtained a permit cross the border or to work. pic.twitter.com/NkQdOoTCj2— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) August 2, 2018
Ivana Trump then began coming to the United States for modeling gigs. She met Donald on one of those trips. He proposed. Stay with me, because here’s where it gets really interesting.— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) August 2, 2018
What’s more, her jump back across the border into Canada to pack raises some problems.
Ivana likely had a visa by the time. She was either in New York as a tourist or a worker. If someone proposes to you one when you’re on that kind of visa, you can get married right away and it’s legitimate before the United States. That’s not what happened in this case. pic.twitter.com/cGjxjqmVfH— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) August 2, 2018
It’s particularly fascinating given how much attention has been put on the immigration history of the president’s current wife, first lady Melania Trump.
Bogado’s case is supported by the interjection of an immigration lawyer.
IMO the Canadian marriage fraud could be enough to have caused problems for her US papers. Did she ever obtain immigration benefits in the US by fraud or misprep? Yes!— Stephen Robbins (@YakimaAbogado) August 2, 2018
At the same time, in making her argument, Bogado explains that questions of legality are not so straightforward when it comes to immigration and that there are many circumstances come into play as to how society evaluates that status.
People do what they can to get to the U.S. They fake marriages. They cross borders. They get by on unauthorized labor. They have children, which are pejoratively called “anchor babies.”— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) August 2, 2018
Her daughter said her mom came here “legally.” Care to clarify what you meant, @IvankaTrump?
So, after her comments on Thursday, balanced between empathy and a maintaining distance to the plight of illegal immigrants, between underlining her own mother’s legality and the necessity to uphold the law, it turns out Ivanka Trump might have more in common with those affected by family separations than she first realized.