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Nancy Pelosi slams President Trump's 'merit-based' immigration plan, then takes a jab at first lady's parents who immigrated to US


'When the president says merit, turn it upside down, that means make America white again'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed President Donald Trump's merit-based immigration proposal, followed by a jab at Slovenia-born first lady Melania Trump's parents.

"When the president says merit, turn it upside down, that means make America white again," Pelosi said during an event at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on Wednesday, the Huffington Post reported.

"I don't know if merit counted for when his wife's family came into the country," Pelosi continued. "I don't know, maybe it did. God bless them if it did. But he calls that chain migration, which he wants to get rid of.

"Should we attach a green card to the diploma of so many scientists and engineers and all the rest and graduate students who train in the U.S. so that they can stay here?" Pelosi asked. "Of course. But that's not the point. The point is that the president does not share the view of even Ronald Reagan and two Bushes in recent history."

When did Melania Trump's parents become citizens?

The first lady's parents, Viktor, 74, and Amalija Knavs, 72, became U.S. citizens last summer.

They had waited years for their green cards, according to The Hill. A green card allows foreign nationals to live and work in the country permanently. Once the couple became eligible, they applied for citizenship.

Melania reportedly came to America on an Einstein visa, which is offered to "individuals of extraordinary ability," as a model.

After Melania gained permanent residency status, she applied for citizenship. In 2006, she took the oath to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

"In Melania Trump's case, it took years for her to become an American citizen, then years for her to petition for her family and they went through the process, passing all of the American citizenship questions and everything just like any other person," Michael Wildes, the first lady's attorney, told The Hill in an earlier interview.

What is the president's immigration plan?

President Trump introduced his American workers' first immigration plan on May 16. Here's what he said during his speech in the White House Rose Garden:

American citizenship is the most precious gift our nation has to offer when we swear in new citizens we do more than give them a permit we give them a history, a heritage, a home, and a future of limitless possibilities and potential.

We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages, and safety of American workers first.
Our plan achieves two critical goals. First, it stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border and second it establishes a new legal immigration system that protects American wages promotes American values and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.

Every year we admit 1.1 million immigrants as permanent legal residents. These green card holders get lifetime authorization to live and work here and a five-year path to American citizenship this is the most prized citizenship anywhere in the world by far.

Our proposal fulfills our sacred duty to those living here today while ensuring America remains a welcoming country to immigrants joining us tomorrow and we want immigrants coming in. We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country but a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill to protect benefits for American citizens immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.

Finally to promote integration assimilation and national unity future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission. Through these steps, we will deliver an immigration system that respects and even strengthens our culture our traditions and our values.

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