Send Melania Trump Back to Slovenia as Required and Enforce Immigration Law

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Visa fraud would call into question a green card application and subsequent citizenship application said immigration lawyers — thus raising questions about Melania Trump’s legal status, even today, despite her marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Politico: Nude photographs published this week are raising fresh questions about the accuracy of a key aspect of Melania Trump’s biography: her immigration status when she first came to the United States to work as a model.

The racy photos of the would-be first lady, published in the New York Post on Sunday and Monday, inadvertently highlight inconsistencies in the various accounts she has provided over the years. And, immigration experts say, there’s even a slim chance that any years-old misrepresentations to immigration authorities could pose legal problems for her today.

While Trump and her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have said she came to the United States legally, her own statements suggest she first came to the country on a short-term visa that would not have authorized her to work as a model. Trump has also said she came to New York in 1996, but the nude photo shoot places her in the United States in 1995, as does a biography published in February by Slovenian journalists.

The inconsistencies come on top of reports by CBS News and GQ Magazine that Trump falsely claimed to have obtained a college degree in Slovenia but could be more politically damaging because her husband has made opposition to illegal immigration the foundation of his presidential run.

Representatives of the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization did not address detailed questions about the timing and circumstances of Melania Trump’s arrival in the country, but campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to the emailed questions by stating, “Melania followed all applicable laws and is now a proud citizen of the United States.”

In a statement issued hours after POLITICO published this report, Trump reiterated on Thursday that she had been “at all times in compliance with the immigration laws of this country.” But her statement conspicuously avoids addressing multiple reports and photographs that place her in the United States and working as a model in 1995, as well as her multiple past statements that she would return every few months to Europe to renew her visa. (Other news outlets, including Bloomberg View, have also noted the inconsistencies in her account.)

Melania Trump statement on immigration status dodges key points


Donnie, oh god, what is Melania doing and where is accused pedophile Epstein’s left hand? Included reputed Mossad Colonel Giselle Maxwell (far right), not included is Alan Dershowitz (Getty through Esquire)

By BEN SCHRECKINGER

Although she may be a proud citizen, Trump’s own statements suggest she may not have followed all applicable laws, immigration experts say.

In a January profile in Harper’s Bazaar, Trump said she would return home from New York to renew her visa every few months. “It never crossed my mind to stay here without papers. That is just the person you are,” she said. “You follow the rules. You follow the law. Every few months you need to fly back to Europe and stamp your visa. After a few visas, I applied for a green card and got it in 2001.”

In a February interview with Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump repeated that characterization of her early years in the United States. “I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa. I travel every few months back to the country Slovenia to stamp the visa. I came back. I applied for a green card. I applied for citizenship later on.”

The Trump campaign and Trump Organization representatives did not address questions about the type of visa Trump first used to enter the country, but it has been widely reported that she came here on an H-1B work visa. Writer Mickey Rapkin, who interviewed Melania for a May profile in the luxury lifestyle magazine DuJour, said she confirmed as much to him. “When I interviewed Melania, I mentioned that she’d come to New York on that H-1B visa, and she nodded in agreement,” Rapkin wrote in an email to POLITICO.

Trump’s tale of returning to Europe for periodic visa renewals is inconsistent with her holding an H-1B visa at all times she was living in New York — even if it was the lesser-known H-1B visa specifically designed for models — said, multiple immigration attorneys and experts. An H-1B visa can be valid for three years and can be extended up to six years — sometimes longer — and would not require renewals in Europe every few months. If, as she has said, Trump came to New York in 1996 and obtained a green card in 2001, she likely would not have had to return to Europe even once to renew an H-1B.

Instead, Trump’s description of her periodic renewals in Europe is more consistent with someone traveling on a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor or B-2 Tourist Visa, which typically last only up to six months and do not permit employment.

If someone were to enter the United States on one of those visas with the intention of working, it could constitute visa fraud, according to Andrew Greenfield, a partner at the Washington office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, a firm that specializes in immigration law.

“It’s quintessential,” he said. “If you enter the United States with the intention of working without authorization and you present yourself to a border agent at an airport or a seaport or a manned border and request a visa, even if there is not a Q&A — knowing that you are coming to work — you are implicit, if not explicitly, manifesting that you intend to comply with the parameters of the visa classification for which you sought entry and were granted entry.”


By KENNETH P. VOGEL and RACHAEL BADE

“There are quirky exceptions to people on a B-1 visa who are able to work — certain domestic servants who are entering the country to accompany their employers who are in the country temporarily,” added Greenfield. “But I can’t imagine that would apply to models.”

“If Melania was traveling to the U.S. on a B-1 business visa, there is a potential problem,” said a Washington-based partner of a major national immigration law firm. “She would not have been authorized to work in the U.S. while on a B-1 visa. In fact, if a customs agent encounters someone entering the U.S. on a B-1 visa and they know that the individual intends to work for a U.S. employer, the individual will usually be denied admission. In order to avoid being sent back to Slovenia, she may have had to lie about the purpose of her trip.”

Visa fraud would call into question a green card application and subsequent citizenship application said immigration lawyers — thus raising questions about Melania Trump’s legal status, even today, despite her marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Violations of U.S. visa law are hardly unusual, particularly in the modeling industry. It was a common practice in the 1990s in New York for less scrupulous agencies to bring in foreign models to work illegally on temporary business and tourist visas, according to Sara Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance, a group that advocates improved labor standards for fashion models.

The timing of Trump’s arrival in New York remains hazy, and representatives of the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization did not address questions about that timing. In a previously unpublished portion of an April interview conducted for a profile in GQ, Trump told POLITICO’s Julia Ioffe that she lived with Matthew Atanian, her first known roommate in New York, only for a few weeks. “I was busy and I was traveling a lot. And then after that, after a month of two, I found my own place,” Trump said.

But in an interview for the same profile, Atanian told Ioffe that they shared the apartment for a period that spanned 1995 to 1996, and Atanian told POLITICO this week that he and Trump shared the apartment for a total of a year to a year and a half. He said he recalled Trump leaving the country to travel home for holidays during that period.

Trump has said she came to New York in 1996, but multiple reports indicate she first started doing work there in 1995. Her personal website was taken down last month in the wake of reports that its biography section falsely credited her with earning a college degree. (Trump tweeted that the website was taken down “because it does not accurately reflect my current business and professional interests.”) An archived snapshot of that bio page describes Trump as “settling in New York in 1996,” and she told Brzezinski in January, “I came to New York 1996.”

But according to “Melania Trump: The Inside Story,” a biography published in February by two Slovenian authors — journalist Bojan Požar and publicist Igor Omerza — Trump “began moving to New York in 1995.” The book also states that Trump first met a close friend, the model Edit Molnar, “in New York in the middle of 1995.”

“In 1995 she started coming to the USA according to the jobs she was getting at fashion agencies,” wrote Požar in an email to POLITICO. “We don’t know the exact dates of those before she officially settled in New York but her visits prior to that were temporary business opportunities that she had as a model.” Požar said he learned of these first jobs in America from two fashion agents, one in Italy and the other in Vienna, and that such trips abroad were common for Eastern European models but not “technically” legal.

Požar’s timing is consistent with the New York Post’s report. The nude photos were taken in New York in 1995 for the January 1996 issue of France’s now-defunct Max Magazine, according to the tabloid.

Alé de Basseville, the photographer who shot the photos, told POLITICO that the shoot took place in a private studio near Manhattan’s Union Square. He declined to name the owner of the studio and said that he encountered Trump through Metropolitan Models, a Paris-based agency with a New York office that was then representing Trump.

To carry out the 1995 New York photoshoot legally, Trump would have required a working visa, likely an H-1B, even if she were not yet living in the United States, as her native Slovenia was not part of the State Department’s visa waiver program until 1997.

Paolo Zampolli, an Italian businessman who was then a partner in Metropolitan and is credited with sponsoring Trump’s entry into the United States and introducing her to her future husband, said that he did not recall that particular shoot or the exact timing of Trump’s first arrival in New York.

Judge won’t release Trump U. deposition videos


By JOSH GERSTEIN

Zampolli said the models he worked with would have entered the country on either an H-1B or an O-1, a visa for foreigners who possess “extraordinary ability.” O-1 visas are frequently given to star scientists, athletes, and entertainers, but because Melania Knauss (her maiden name) was an obscure model who mostly posed for advertisements and catalogs in the mid-’90s, it is highly unlikely she qualified for an O-1, which comes with an initial stay period of up to three years, said, immigration attorneys. An O-1 visa would also not have required her to leave the country periodically.

Zampolli said he first met Trump in Milan and that model he worked for moved across international borders legally. “Every model we represented, we did a visa,” he said. “It’s just part of the rules.”

Even Melania’s use of the H-1B program would stand in contrast to her husband’s position today. Trump, who has made his opposition to illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, has also vowed to crackdown on the use of H1-B visas as president. In March, he said he would “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

Vox: The Associated Press has found documentation showing that Melania Trump broke immigration law when she first came to the US in 1996 — by entering the country on a tourist visa and then working as a professional model.

It’s an ironic twist for a presidential campaign that’s marked itself by casting aspersions on immigrants in general, and “illegal” immigrants in particular, for the past 17 months.

The AP’s revelations probably won’t sway Donald Trump’s supporters in the waning days of the campaign. And while technically under immigration law Melania’s citizenship could be revoked if the government found she’d committed visa fraud to come here, it’s extremely unlikely that that’s going to happen.

Immigration policy is extremely complicated; the line between “legal” and “illegal” isn’t always visible. Melania appears to have entered the US legally and then worked illegally. If anything, that should give pause to anyone who believes her husband and other politicians who claim that unauthorized immigration can be remedied by building a wall at the border, or fixed easily at all.

Melania Trump’s immigration history explained

Melania Trump came to the US in the mid-1990s to work as a model. But the specifics of her arrival, and the specific immigration status she had before getting a green card in 2001, were always unclear — and have provoked a great deal of speculation about whether she was really a “legal immigrant” for the entire time she lived in the US.

The AP’s reporting doesn’t answer all the questions that have been raised about Melania’s immigration status, including how she got her green card in 2001. But it does establish a clear timeline for how she came to the US to begin with. (Lawyers affiliated with the Trump dispute the AP article, saying its documents don’t “reflect our records” — but the Trumps have never released any documents related to Melania’s status themselves.)

According to the AP, Melania Knauss (her maiden name) first came to the US in August 1996 on a B1/B2 “tourist visa.” Tourist visas allow someone to stay in the US for six months, but they can’t seek employment in the US during that time.

Then on October 18, 1996, the AP found, she got an H-1B visa for “skilled workers” allowing her to work legally in the US as a model.

The problem is that the AP’s documentation shows that Melania was “paid for 10 modeling assignments between September 10 and October 15” — while she was still on the tourist visa. In other words, she was working on a visa that didn’t legally permit her to work — and thus was violating the terms by which she’d been allowed to come to the US.

Melania could have committed visa fraud — or she could have been duped by unscrupulous employers

To be clear: Melania Knauss didn’t enter the US illegally. But she did, if the AP’s reporting is correct, violate immigration law.

Technically, she violated her tourist visa the minute she engaged in employment for pay in the US. But it’s possible that she didn’t know that.

B-visas are often issued to “temporary business visitors” — who are here for “business activities” but not allowed to work. It’s for people who are going to professional conferences, for example, or networking with associates — or even negotiating a contract for future employment. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services website explains that activities under a business visitor visa “must be directly connected with and part of your work abroad.”

Legally, working for pay for a US company is a clear violation of the terms of that visa, but it’s not exactly intuitive that someone coming on a business visa, especially if she’d been working as a model in Europe, wouldn’t be allowed to work.

This summer, when questions about Melania’s immigration status first came up, a Politico article cited a labor standards advocacy group’s claim that “[i]t was a common practice in the 1990s in New York for less scrupulous agencies to bring in foreign models to work illegally on temporary business and tourist visas.” If Melania Trump was on the same sort of visa as everyone else she worked with, it’s totally possible that she was simply being misled as to its legality.

Then again, it is also entirely possible that Melania knowingly committed visa fraud; that, in fact, she lied to US immigration officials when entering the country in August 1996 about her intentions to work while in the US. That’s not just an immigration violation but an outright federal crime.

Either way, in order for Melania to have gotten a green card and then US citizenship, she would have had to attest that she hadn’t violated immigration law before — something that now appears to be untrue.

If the US government really wanted to, it could use the AP’s reporting to launch an investigation into whether Melania Trump deliberately misrepresented her immigration history when she sought US citizenship. It could even try to strip her of it.

The fact of the matter is that not all violations of immigration law are equally serious. The federal government understands that, and conserves its resources accordingly. Melania Trump’s husband may not always understand it, but that’s the way the world works.

The problem isn’t Melania Trump — it’s a system that even Melania Trump can’t navigate
Ostensibly, the reason that Melania Trump’s immigration status 20 years ago is politically relevant is that it exposes her husband’s hypocrisy — which should, hypothetically, be a political liability for him. He says illegal immigrants should all be deported — but, according to this report, his own wife once worked illegally in the United States.

Yet Trump’s supporters tend to care less about an immigrant’s legal status than about whether she embraces US culture and values. If they liked Melania before, knowing she was an immigrant, it’s not obvious that they’ll start freaking out about her now.

What’s more interesting is that the scrutiny of Melania Trump actually undermines one of the core assumptions that Trump and his supporters have about the immigration system: that it’s perfectly clear who’s “legal” and who’s not, and that if you’re violating immigration law it must be out of malice. Neither of those things is true.

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5 COMMENTS

    • just a thought people should keep in mind, women make way better spies than men. a very old and well known thing, but constantly and cyclically falls out of our consciousness.

  1. Not sure where he will get his next hooker since Epstein is laying low. Maybe his inhouse hooker that claims God speaks to her will take the job. lol

    • Melania will take half of everything Trump cult sent in to “MAGA” Lol and go sleep around to arouse him.
      With the other half he’d be lucky if he could call off Adelson’s marker, let alone be able to purchase anything.
      Yeah maybe one night with Kayleigh …

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