Trump’s war on ‘chain migration’ raises lots of questions about how Melania and her parents got here

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DoD News / Flickr melania trump...
DoD News / Flickr

It’s not just that Donald Trump’s latest anti-immigrant campaign—this time attacking so-called “chain migration”—echoes the messaging and lingo of Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups founded by a eugenicist commonly referred to as the “racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement,” it’s that Trump’s campaign raises lots of questions about how people from his own familial circle have gotten here.

“The fact is that Trump, like millions of other Americans, has personally benefited from the same sort of migration he now decries,” the Huffington Post’s Roque Planas writes. “If the U.S. didn’t allow immigrants to follow their family members, Trump might have led a poorer and lonelier life. Some of his ancestors might not have come to the U.S. to join family, long the most common form of immigration. His in-laws’ options for joining his wife, herself an immigrant from Slovenia, in the U.S. would have been notably limited”:

If it becomes law, the RAISE Act could also block Trump’s in-laws from officially immigrating―if they have not done so already. According to news reports, first lady Melania Trump’s parents live at least a significant part of the year in New York, where they reside at Trump Tower. Her sister, Ines Knauss, also lives in New York.

… [The] main reason Viktor and Amalija Knavs are living in the United States, according to multiple reports, is to care for their daughter’s child. That’s exactly the logic that drives U.S. immigration law to privilege family reunification. From the day Melania Trump took her oath of citizenship in 2006, she could have petitioned for her parents to immigrate to the United States. Even if she chose not to sponsor her parents for permanent residence, the law affords multiple ways to bring her family here for extended periods.”

“It appears that Trump’s own family takes advantage of the immigration system when it suits them,” David Leopold, an immigration attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the Huffington Post. “And it’s completely hypocritical for Trump to then turn around and blame all immigrants for a horrible attack in New York that occurred years after this guy got here.” Typical Trump, the old “it’s fine as long as I’m the one doing it.” 

As Planas notes, “chain migration” is “the term immigration restrictionists use to describe allowing U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to help their family members immigrate to this country.” Planas is a great reporter and much too polite to call these “immigration restrictionists” for what they really are: racist assholes. 

For years, these deplorables have been on the fringe of the fringe, but now that they have their guy in the White House, their racist agenda to make America white and Trump’s agenda to make America white are one and the same. And voila, with the help of official White House ghouls like Stephen Miller, the proposed RAISE Act, which has been backed by anti-immigrant hate group FAIR because it means less brown immigrants, now has the official backing of the Trump administration.

But, we know Trump benefits plenty from immigration, both documented and otherwise. From his hotels, to his son’s winery, to Mar-a-Lago, to Trump Tower, immigrants have kept his empire running. They keep America running. And hey, when the administration is even floating digging into the social media accounts of immigrants already here legally, we deserve to ask a couple questions about his own family’s immigration dealings. But of course, they’re being as shady and secretive as fuck:

Immigration records are private in the United States. A spokeswoman for the first lady said the office does “not comment on the First Lady’s family in an effort to protect their privacy,” and the White House did not respond to a request for comment on how the president’s ancestors immigrated to the U.S.

David Wildes, an immigration lawyer who currently represents Melania Trump on immigration issues, likewise declined to comment on the status of her immediate relatives.

Assuming the first lady’s parents are still visitors, family reunification wouldn’t be their only option for taking up full-time residence in America. Investing $1 million in this country or sinking $500,000 into an enterprise that creates at least 10 jobs would qualify them for an EB-5 investor visa. If one of them showed “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, they might qualify for a green card on those merits ― as Melania Knauss did when she applied to become a legal permanent resident in 2001 to pursue a modeling career. If the first lady’s parents faced persecution in their home country of Slovenia, they might qualify for refugee status.

Not to mention the fact that Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric were all born before their immigrant mom, Ivana, attained U.S. citizenship. When brown people do this, they call them “anchor babies.” Of course, we don’t know the complete truth regarding Melania because the administration won’t talk immigration unless it means attacking immigration. I mean, we’re still waiting on Melania’s press conference, promised to us by Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks way back in August 2016, to discuss her own immigration history, which is itself also mired in plenty of questions. For example, the White House has yet to address how exactly Melania got a green card and if she worked illegally before obtaining a work visa. The receipts show she probably did:

Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press.

The details of Mrs. Trump’s early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them. Trump has proposed broader use of the government’s E-verify system allowing employers to check whether job applicants are authorized to work. He has noted that federal law prohibits illegally paying immigrants.

So much for that “law and order” administration. And no offense to Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss, but if modeling counts as an “extraordinary ability” meriting a green card and eventual citizenship, what about the millions of undocumented immigrants who also toil in the fields daily to feed America? And the 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who know no other country but this one as their home yet face possible deportation? Are they not deserving of the same legal protections? Even Donald Trump, who is anti-immigrant to the core, has an immigration story (and a “chain migration” one at that). But his actions, and his family actions, add up to one message: we already got ours, so screw you.

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