Melania Trump's parents are closer to being United States citizens

Amalija and Viktor Knavs parents of first lady Melania Trump obtained green cards to reside permanently in the United States

A lawyer speaking to first lady Melania Trump's parents says they're living lawfully in the U.S.

"I can confirm that Mrs. Trump's parents are both lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents", immigration attorney Michael Wildes, who represents the first lady and her family, told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Mr Wildes declined further comment, including discussing when the couple would be eligible for citizenship or how their permanent residency was obtained.

Chain migration is the process whereby newly naturalized citizens can bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the U.S. As a result, about 9.3 million legal immigrants have arrived in the U.S. through chain migration since 2005.

But immigration experts told the paper that Trump's in-laws most likely relied on the very path he has derided and condemned to obtain residency that allows them to live in the US.

David Leopold, an immigration lawyer, told the Washington Post said it was likely Melania had sponsored her parents so they could obtain green cards.

He claimed as recently as last month than chain migration threatens USA security and quality of life, citing the example of NY truck terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, who came to the country via such a program.

In 2000, Mrs Trump self-sponsored herself for residency on the basis of her "extraordinary ability" as a model.

Once in possession of a green card, immigrants who live in the country continuously can apply for citizenship after five years.

The first lady's parents' immigration history has been an open question for some time, but it has taken on greater salience in light of President Trump's demand that chain migration be eliminated in a deal to give amnesty to younger illegal immigrants. Both of the first lady's parents, aged in their 70s, are thought to be retired.

Melania Trump became a USA citizen in 2001 - a year after she and President Trump were married.

Several years ago, their attorneys contacted Sen.

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that the United States needed a "merit-based" immigration system, adding that "chain migration and the visa lottery are outdated programs that hurt our economic and national security".

This makes chain migration the largest driver of immigration to the US - making up more than 70 percent - with every two new immigrants bringing seven foreign relatives with them. Schumer's office declined to comment.

In his State of the Union address on January 30, Trump blasted "the current broken system" for allowing a single immigrant to "bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives".

'Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children'. "This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future".

Democrats and some Republicans have vociferously opposed that measure.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Wednesday.

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