It’s a well-known fact Melania Trump, the would-be first lady and wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, is an immigrant to the United States, and in fact, would be only the second first lady born outside this country.The former model was born in Slovenia, and she says she came to the U.S. on a work visa in 1996; recently though, The New York Post published nude photographs of Mrs. Trump that were taken in the states in 1995 — and these racy pictures, as well as statements Melania herself has made, are raising questions about possible holes in Melania Trumps immigration story.
Melania Trumps early years in the United States
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar earlier this year, Mrs. Trump said she “followed the rules” throughout the naturalization process, first coming to the country with a visa for work in 1996. Subsequently, she said, “After a few visas, I applied for a green card and got it in 2001. After the green card, I applied for citizenship. And it was a long process.”
She reiterated as much in a February interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” saying, “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.”
Holes in Melania Trumps Immigration Story?
Some critics though aren’t buying Melania Trumps immigration story, and they say these accounts by Mrs. Trumps of her early years in the United States raise some red flags.
First, Melania explained that she traveled back to Slovenia every few months to renew her visa, which suggests she was in the U.S. on a short-term visa, and thus, would not have been permitted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to work as a model. (Politico notes she likely had a B-1 Temporary Visitor or B-2 Tourist Visa, rather than an H-1B visa, which would have authorized her to work legally in the country.)
Next, Melania’s charge that she first entered the U.S. in 1996 seems to contradict reporting by The New York Post and others. The Post obtained nude images of Mrs. Trump that they say were shot for Max, a French men’s magazine, in New York City in 1995, and published in January 2006 — countering her claim she arrived in the country that year. Moreover, Politico reported that Mrs. Trumps Slovenian biographer said the former model took jobs in the U.S. in 1995 that were not “technically” legal. A reporter at the news outlet also spoke with Melania’s former roommate in New York, Matthew Atanian, who attested that the two shared an apartment during a time period that spanned 1995 to 1996.
Melania fires back
In a statement posted on Twitter, the would-be first lady fired back at skeptics, writing, “In recent days there has been a lot of inaccurate reporting and misinformation concerning my immigration status back in 1996. Let me set the record straight: I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period.”
Yet some news outlets, including Politico and Bloomberg View, have noted that in her response, Mrs. Trump failed to address exactly when she first arrived in the U.S., or to explain why reports and images place her in the country in 1995. She also didn’t expound on the short-term visas she likely obtained, which may not have authorized her to work domestically.
Her husband, Donald Trump, has promised his wife will hold a news conference in the upcoming weeks to address the issue.
Support from Melania’s former agent
Though that news conference is yet to happen, the Associated Press recently conducted an interview with Mrs. Trumps former modeling agent, Paolo Zampolli, who was a partner at modeling agency Metropolitan Models at the time he represented her. Zampolli defended his old client, telling the news agency he secured her work visa, and saying, “I know she was not working a paid job before she got the H-1B.” He also cited Melania’s previous modeling jobs in Paris and Milan, saying she had enough experience to qualify for the H-1B visa, and explained she likely was just confused about which visa she’d used.
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