Melania Trump is only the second first lady of the United States not born in America; the first, Louisa Adams was born in England. Yet she’s remained silent as her husband, President Donald Trump, tweets racist and xenophobic attacks at four Democratic freshman lawmakers who are all women of color.
On Sunday, the President implied Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts weren’t natural-born American citizens.
Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley are natural-born US citizens, while Omar was born in Somalia and immigrated to the US when she was young. Omar became a citizen in 2000 when she was 17 years old, according to The New York Times.
The women made headlines last week for condemning the conditions of border detention facilities.
The issue is one which Melania Trump has vocally disagreed with her husband’s policies.
“It was unacceptable for me to see children and parents separated. It was heartbreaking. And I reacted with my own voice,” Melania Trump said told ABC News in an interview about four months after she visited border facilities in Texas and Arizona in 2018.
“Yes (I disagree) and I let him (the President) know. I didn’t know that that policy would come out. I was blindsided by it. I told him at home, and I said to him that I feel that’s unacceptable, and he felt the same,” she added.
A CNN request comment on her husband’s tweets was not returned by Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary who also serves as the first lady’s spokeswoman.
Grisham tweeted Monday: “So typical to watch the mainstream media and Dems attack @realDonaldTrump for speaking directly to the American people. His message is simple: the U.S.A. is the greatest nation on Earth, but if people aren’t happy here they don’t have to stay. Under President Trump, our country is thriving and it will only get better – no matter how much the left tries to say otherwise.”
The first lady has appeared to contradict the President several times during her tenure from his use of social media as a platform for occasional bullying, to her thoughts about NBA superstar LeBron James, whose intellectual capacity was questioned by the President in a tweet last summer.
However, Melania Trump has aligned with the President on her beliefs about the immigration process – that it must be approached legally and by-the-book. She has several times said publicly that she lawfully went through the steps to become a citizen shortly after she began working and living in America in 1996.
The first lady was born in Slovenia, then part of communist Yugoslavia. Slovenia claimed its independence in 1991 when Trump was 21 years old, around the same time she left her home country to pursue a modeling career in Italy and France. She ultimately landed in New York City, where she met then-real estate businessman and personality Donald Trump in 1998. She married Trump in 2005 and obtained her United States citizenship the following year.
Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, also went through the immigration process, using the perjoratively called “chain migration” route the President has criticized. The Knavs’ were granted citizenship in August 2018. A source with direct knowledge of Melania Trump’s parents and their immigration status previously told CNN that she had sponsored her parents for their green cards, a status that allowed them to live and work in the US indefinitely and paved the way for citizenship.
The Knavs’s immigration lawyer, Michael Wildes, who also worked with Melania Trump on her immigration process several years prior, told CNN at the time of the Knavs’ US citizenship process: “It went well and they are very grateful and appreciative of this wonderful day for their family.”