There is currently a great deal of discussion over whether or not Melania Trump might have broken immigration laws by working in the US without the proper visa back in the '90s.
Donald and Melania Trump have consistently maintained she entered the US legally in 1996, so the date of this photo shoot seems to contradict this.
As Ben Schreckinger and Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico report, there are also statements Melania Trump made in past interviews that raise doubts about her immigration story.
Schreckinger and Debenedetti stated,
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.'
If Melania Trump flew back to Europe every couple of months, however, this contradicts reports she came here on an H-1B visa.
As the Politico article explained,
It has been widely reported that [Melania Trump] 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 are 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.
On Thursday, Melania Trump released a statement in response to these allegations, vehemently denying there is any truth to them.
At this point in time, there are still more questions to be asked about all of this. We can't definitively say whether Melania Trump violated US immigration laws.
But Trump can squash all of this by releasing her visa records. If she doesn't have them, she can request the records from the US government.
If any of this does end up being true, Donald Trump will likely be called a hypocrite by his critics for his ongoing call for the deportation of over 11 million undocumented immigrants, along with the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Not to mention, Trump frequently suggested President Obama was not born in the US, fanning the flames of the birther movement.
There also seems to be a possibility Melania Trump could be deported. According to the American Immigration Council,
The grounds of deportability under the federal immigration laws have no statute of limitations. Immigrants may be placed in removal proceedings on the basis of misconduct regardless of how long ago it occurred.
Given all this, it's not surprising people can't stop talking about this story right now.
There was a great deal of chatter about it on Twitter on Thursday, ranging from mockery to outrage.