Immigration has been a heated issue during this election season. However, the debate just took a surprising, if inevitable turn. Lately reporters and the public seem to be pretty curious about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s divisive stances on the topic and whether his wife, a former supermodel and an immigrant from Slovenia, is the real deal — in fact, some are now claiming that Melania Trump came to the United States illegally. That's just speculation, of course — and to top it off, American immigration laws are very tricky and complicated, firstly to understand and secondly for citizenship-hopefuls to follow. Is it any wonder people are getting their stories mixed?
This speculation has gained attention lately because if the New York billionaire wins this presidential election this November, his wife would be the first foreign-born first lady since John Quincy Adams’ wife Louisa, who was born in London in 1775.
This time, the potential first lady came from Slovenia to New York in the mid-1990s and some journalists have been digging into the possibility that she may have allegedly done so without meeting the legal criteria. Again, just allegations, but some people are ready to push the narrative regardless. According to Francis Wilkinson from Bloomberg, "Remarkably little is known about Mrs. Trump's emigration to the United States," so those qualms aren't totally unrealistic.
Since this speculation started to gain traction, Melania has firmly defended that she has always followed immigration rules in the United States and took to Twitter on Thursday morning to make her point again:
It's not entirely clear what kind of visa Melania Trump used when she first entered the United States back in 1996. She herself hasn't clarified this, so reporters have explored that she may have entered the country on an H-1B work visa or a tourist visa.
Ex-agent Pablo Zampolli, claimed to the Associated Press on Thursday that he was the one to secure Melania's work visa 20 years ago. According to the interview, the AP noted:
"I know she was not working a paid job before she got the H-1B," Zampolli said, referring to the type of work visa that U.S. companies can obtain for "fashion models of distinguished merit and ability." H-1B visas generally allow a person to work and live in the U.S. for three years with the opportunity to renew the visas for another three years.
However, the problem with Melania's own remarks was how she said she complied with this specific visa's rule and how they appear to conflict with they way they are actually enforced. That's because H-1B work visa holders are generally admitted to the United States for a three-year duration and do not need to travel back and forth to their home country to "stamp" their passports, like you might have to do under a tourist visa and wouldn't have been able to work for hire in the United States.
Back in February, Melania told MSNBC's Morning Joe that she would have to do just that. She said:
I follow the law. 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.
Critics and skeptics still aren't pleased with any of her recent remarks and want her to specify exactly what visa she was on when she first came to the United States. The answer would be able to tell the public if she was actually allowed to work legally as a model in the '90s or if she committed any type of visa fraud.
The American immigration system has been under an intense amount of scrutiny in recent years while being a leading issue Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have certainly weighed in on. But, if it turns out that the potential first lady made a successful modeling career for herself illegally, it'd be a serious blow to the Trump campaign. If not, then it's just another reason the 2016 election has been so crazy.