The Muted Conversation about Melania Trump's Early Immigration Status

By David North on August 8, 2016

There has been a muted conversation recently about the question of Melania Trump's immigration status during her first trips to the United States.

Was she working on a visitor's visa (B-1) when she was not allowed to do so?

She subsequently, apparently, secured an H-1B visa (there are – God knows why – special provisions for alien models to secure these visas) and from there she moved to green card and then to citizen status.

Had she been here illegally, and had the government decided to do something about it, her green card and citizenship status could be in danger, but that appears to be only a theoretical possibility. (Remember how President Obama's aunt and later his uncle both managed to avoid deportation despite years of unambiguously illegal presence?)

When asked about this, according to Bloomberg View, Mrs. Trump replied:

"I follow the law," Trump said. "I follow a law the way it's supposed to be. I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa. I travel every few months back to the country, to Slovenia, to stamp the visa. I came back. I applied for the green card. I applied for the citizenship later on after many years of green card. So I went by system. I went by the law, and you should do that."

The problem with her reply, as several journalists have pointed out, is that there is no need to get an H-1B visa renewed every few months, they are good for three years, but that there is a need to renew a six-month visitor's visa, which does not allow paid employment in the U.S. So, if she had an H-1B why the trips back to Slovenia and why the explanation offered above?

The Trump campaign has not been specific about the kinds of visas she had, their dates, and the dates of her initial paid employment in the U.S.

If the spouse of Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine had such a record, you could be sure that the
Trump campaign would talk of little else, but with the shoe being on the other foot, there has been relatively little coverage of this matter. Why is this the case? There are several reasons:

  1. The Clinton campaign (to my knowledge) has said nothing about the issue, letting the media handle it, and using the kind of strategic restraint that their opponents rarely use.
  2. The Clinton campaign is pretty soft on illegal immigration anyway.
  3. The issue dates back 20 years and borders on the technical; most Americans are not aware that work is prohibited for some visa-holders, but not others.
  4. Donald Trump has not lashed out at Bloomberg View and Politico for raising the issue, or has not yet done so. This would give the issue new life.
  5. Melania Trump is not a controversial person; she came out of the convention speech plagiarism issue looking more naive than anything else.

Will we hear more about this? Maybe, but only if there is additional input.

Topics: Politics