Melania Trump's Slovenian parents get US citizenship

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He said: "It's a dirty - a dirtier word", but added: "It stands for a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification".

Trump hasn't commented or tweeted about his in-laws' newfound citizenship. When Mrs Trump began her modeling career, while still a teenager, the whole family sensed opportunity, according to those who knew them in Slovenia. The couple's exact path to citizenship isn't clear, but one likely possibility is that their daughter's citizenship helped them get green cards first, reports CNBC.

However it's unclear whether their green cards were granted by a process the President has sought to end.

The Times noted that the couple would have to have their green cards for five years to become eligible for citizenship.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are from Slovenia, had previously been living in the legal permanent residents with green cards.

Advocates for restricting legal immigration have pointed to the imbalance in favor of family connections as evidence of the need for reform, calling for a "merit-based" system that would choose immigrants based on need in the US.

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In family-based immigration, adult American citizens can petition for residency for their parents, adult married children and siblings.

Trump and his congressional allies have fought to slash that dramatically, limiting sponsorship to spouses and minor children, including dropping the threshold for minor children from 21 to 18.

Asked if the Knavses had obtained citizenship through "chain migration", their lawyer, Michael Wildes, said: "I suppose".

The couple are natives of Slovenia, where they raised Melania, but have been in the USA for more than a decade, says their immigration lawyer, per CNBC. The Slovenian immigrants, a former vehicle dealer and textile factory worker, had been living in the U.S. as permanent residents.

They came and went from the ceremony at a Manhattan federal building flanked by Homeland Security police. Ms Knavs is 73. While they reside for the most part in New York, AP notes that they've also spent an ample amount of time in the nation's capital helping to take care of their grandson, 12-year-old Barron Trump.