A new report in Politico suggests that Trump may have broken immigration law during her first few years in the U.S. The former model says she was here in the 1990s on an H-1B visa designed for models. In interviews she has explained how the visa required her to go back to her home country of Slovenia every few months to renew her stay in the states. But immigration experts say the H-1B visa lasts from three to six years—meaning she shouldn’t have had to make trips home that frequently. More likely, Politico notes, Trump’s experience reflects that of someone with a temporary business visa (B-1) or a tourist visa (B-2). Those last up to six months, but wouldn’t have allowed Trump to work. Under those circumstances she could have been working illegally.
The reason Trump’s immigration and work history is so controversial is because her husband Donald Trump, the current Republican presidential nominee, has built his platform largely on keeping illegal immigrants out. Not only that, but he’s also rallying against the very visa, the H1-B, that helped Melania get her start as a model in the U.S.
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 crack down 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.
Trump has responded to accusations that she was in the United States illegally with the following statement:
— MELANIA TRUMP (@MELANIATRUMP) August 4, 2016