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The Slovenian-born parents of Melania Trump became US citizens at a naturalization ceremony in New York on Thursday, reportedly taking advantage of a family reunification program President Donald Trump has vehemently denounced.

Trump’s in-laws Viktor and Amalija Knavs took the oath of citizenship, their immigration lawyer Michael Wildes confirmed to AFP.

Asked by the New York Times if they had obtained citizenship under a program derisively branded “chain migration” by the president, Wildes replied: “I suppose.”

He said chain migration, which allows naturalized US citizens to sponsor close relatives for permanent residency, was a “dirtier” way of characterizing what he called “a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification.”

Trump has taken a hardline on immigration policy, criticizing so-called chain migration.

The Republican president has said such a system steals jobs from Americans and threatens national security, calling for a merit-based system that gives preference to more educated, English-speaking professionals.

Writing on Twitter in November, Trump made his views on the system clear.

“CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”

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