- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2016

Democrats demanded Thursday that the government release Melania Trump’s immigration file after news reports and at least one prominent immigration lawyer raised questions about whether the wife of the Republican presidential nominee followed the law in entering and working in the U.S.

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump, a political action committee, said it was filing an open-records request for Mrs. Trump’s visa records — though it’s unlikely they will be successful.

Mrs. Trump, posting a message on Twitter, insisted she followed all the laws in arriving in the U.S. on a visa, obtaining a green card granting her permanent legal residency in 2001 and then becoming a citizen in July 2006.

“Let me set the record straight: I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period,” she said. “Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue.”

But one of the country’s foremost specialists said details that have been made public so far leave plenty of unanswered questions about Mrs. Trump’s path to citizenship.

“Unfortunately, the Trump campaign has not released her immigration records, so no one knows for sure,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor at Cornell University Law School.

He said those questions include when exactly Mrs. Trump arrived — 1995 or 1996 — and whether her visa allowed her to work. Mr. Yale-Loehr also said Mrs. Trump’s path to getting her green card should be detailed.

“Donald Trump has said that anyone who has violated U.S. immigration laws must be dealt with in the harshest terms. Having raised the issue, Mr. and Mrs. Trump should answer these legitimate questions about Melania’s own immigration history,” the lawyer said.

Politico, a political insider’s news publication, raised questions after photos of Mrs. Trump modeling in 1995 were published in the New York Post this week. The Washington Post reported that a modeling agency owner sponsored Mrs. Trump for an H-1B visa, which is available for high-skilled workers — including models — in 1996.

Mrs. Trump, the candidate’s third wife, previously said that when she first came to the U.S. she would regularly travel back to her home country of Slovenia to get her visa restamped.

It’s unclear how the campaign squares the questions about timing, though Mrs. Trump’s description of her travel back and forth to have her visa renewed might suggest she was in the U.S. on a tourist or business visitor’s visa. However, it is generally illegal to work on such a visa.

It’s also unclear what pathway Mrs. Trump took to obtain her green card, which can be earned based on marriage, a business sponsorship or several other specific avenues.

The PAC seeking those details from the government is likely to be shut out. Privacy laws usually prevent others from looking at a person’s immigration files. The chief exceptions are for those who have died or those who have given their consent for the files to be released.

Mr. Trump has campaigned on a platform of strictly enforcing immigration laws, and his opponents say it would be a delicious irony if his wife had circumvented the usual rules herself.

“That would just go to show that Mr. Trump has been and always will be one thing: a hypocrite,” said Jon Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Coalition Against Trump.

The group has targeted Mrs. Trump before, filing a complaint with federal election officials after an employee of the Trump Organization, the candidate’s business empire, said she wrote Mrs. Trump’s convention speech.

Mr. Cooper’s organization said there were no records of the woman being paid by the campaign for her work. The campaign said she was volunteering her time and didn’t need to report it.

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