Melania's Immigration Lawyer Ripped Trump's Criticism Of "Chain Migration", Which His In-Laws Used
The immigration lawyer who helped First Lady Melania Trump's parents obtain U.S. citizenship earlier this week through so-called "chain migration" is now pushing back on the president's opposition of the process. Immigration attorney Michael Wildes called Trump's rhetoric on chain migration "unconscionable" in an appearance Friday on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront.
"It's unconscionable to scare people into believing that," Wildes said during an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett. "You cannot bring nephews, you cannot bring nieces or uncles. You can't bring 32 people here." Wildes' comments came as a response to previous claims from President Trump that alleged chain migration is "terrible" and "a disaster for this country."
Melania's parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, were sworn in as citizens in a private ceremony Thursday after Wildes helped them obtain citizenship through a family-based immigration process the president vehemently opposes and has described as "chain migration." Through so-called "chain migration" U.S. citizens are able to sponsor or petition green cards for close relatives who can then, when eligible, seek citizenship themselves.
According to Wildes, Melania sponsored her parents for their green cards. "Once they had the green card, they then applied for citizenship when they were eligible," the New York Times reported Wildes said earlier this week. He appeared to confirm the Knavs' reliance on chain migration Friday, telling Burnett that Melania had hired him "with the intentions of bringing her family here."
But immigration advocates have said the term "chain migration" is misleading as the seemingly unending "chain" President Trump and other immigration opponents describe never forms thanks to restrictions already built into the process. In his appearance on CNN, Wildes, who emphasized that he was speaking personally and not on behalf of either the first lady or her parents, likened what the president calls "chain migration" to family reunification.
"This whole notion of chain migration actually is a beautiful bedrock of immigration law and policy called family reunification," Wildes said. "Imagine this, people will work harder and love more, and do more for America knowing that their loved ones, their immediate relatives, their parents, their children [can immigrate one day]."
"I can understand that some of them may be in jeopardy, and you may want to retool an antiquated immigration system," Wildes went on to say. "It looks weird to have a lottery system. But chain migration? No. Family reunification."
This isn't the first time Wildes has appeared to oppose Trump's attack on family-based immigration. Earlier in the week, the New York Times reported that Wildes had said the term "chain migration" was a "dirtier" way of describing "a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification." Under family-based immigration policy, citizens and legal permanent residents are able to sponsor their parents, adult siblings, and adult children's immigration to the United States.
Despite his in-laws reliance on the process, President Trump has long opposed so-called "chain migration" and called for its end. "CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!" Trump tweeted in early November. "Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!"