How Melania Trump's Support Of Her Parents Went Against Donald's Political Aims

Donald and Melania Trump might've made their mark on American history as a package deal, but the wife and mother has proven time and time again that she navigates life on her own terms — even if that means directly opposing her husband. Melania's parents' immigration journey in 2018 was no exception.

Amalija and Viktor Knavs raised Melania and her older sister, Ines, in southeastern Slovenia (then-Communist Yugoslavia) near the Croatian border. Melania moved to the United States to become a model in the early 2000s, but she didn't leave her family behind. According to Mary Jordan, author of "The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump," one of the first items on Melania's agenda after becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006 was figuring out how to help her parents and sister do the same, per the Washington Examiner

Though it's unclear how Ines gained U.S. citizenship, The New York Times reported in 2018 that Amalija and Viktor Knavs had obtained theirs through Melania's sponsorship. While this is a standard immigration process, it is one that the Trump administration has repeatedly condemned as dangerous to the country.

Melania Trump sponsored her parents so that they could get their green cards

The process of a U.S. immigrant sponsoring their parents or other relatives' green cards so that they, too, can obtain citizenship is called family-based immigration. This tactic is officially titled "family reunification" under federal law and is the most common legal form of immigration to the U.S., per CBS News. Former President Donald Trump frequently criticized this method of immigration, tweeting in November 2017, "CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!"

The irony of Donald Trump denouncing family-based immigration while his in-laws were actively pursuing it was not lost on the media and internet users, who quickly pointed out the contradicting nature of the Knavs' situation. Per the New York Times, the Knavs' lawyer, Michael Wildes, agreed that the Knavs' immigration process was the same kind that Trump condemned. However, Wildes called "chain migration" a "dirtier" way to describe "a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification."

Still, that didn't stop members of Trump's political party from expressing their disdain for the double standard. "I guess when it's Melania's family, it's 'family reunification' and should be applauded. Everybody else, it's 'chain migration' and must be stopped," Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a Republican political commentator, tweeted in August 2018.

Melania Trump's public persona has contradicted Donald Trump multiple times

Donald Trump's lengthy history of opposing broadened U.S. immigration policies makes the citizenship story of Melania Trump's parents, Amalija and Viktor Knavs, all the more ironic. But the 2018 controversy wouldn't be the only time Melania's outward appearances and actions directly opposed her husband. For example, Melania Trump's partnership with the National Archives garnered a similar response, leaving many Trump supporters confused. 

The former first lady was the headline speaker of a 2023 National Archives event, and her inclusion seemed appropriate given her Slovenian immigration story. However, Melania's husband has a historically rocky relationship with the organization ever since it sparked Trump's scandalous classified document lawsuit in 2021. Some speculated that Melania's decision to speak at the event was a way to distance herself from her husband. But other critics, such as Melania's former friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, said it was merely hypocrisy on the former first lady's part (via X, formerly known as Twitter).

Whatever the reasoning behind Melania's mysteriously stoic actions, it's clear that the former model and political figure has no problem making decisions that might seem untactful. It certainly calls to mind Melania's infamous jacket that she wore to the U.S.-Mexico border that read "I really don't care, do u?" on the back. Indeed, Melania Trump has made it clear that her family comes first, and anyone who has a problem with it? Well, she doesn't really care.