- President Donald Trump campaigned on a set of extreme immigration policies, including building a wall on the US-Mexico border and banning Muslims from entering the US.
- And he is again cracking down on illegal immigration, reportedly urging officials to close the southern border, considering a plan to deliver illegal immigrants into “sanctuary cities,” and ending aid to three Central American countries in response to a wave of migrants.
- But there are some prominent immigrants and first-generation Americans in the Trump administration – here are five of them.
President Donald Trump was elected on a set of anti-immigration policies, including building a wall on the US-Mexico border, banning Muslims from entering the US, and cutting back on the number of refugees allowed in the country.
More recently, the president has escalated his campaign to reduce immigration, reportedly urging officials to close the southern border, considering a plan to release undocumented immigrants into “sanctuary cities,” and ending aid to three Central American countries in response to a wave of migrants.
Meanwhile, his administration has moved to dramatically reduce the number of immigrants legally allowed to come to the US, while planning to close many of the US’s immigration operations around the world, and attempting to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico as their applications were processed by the US.
But there are some prominent immigrants and first-generation Americans in the Trump administration, including, of course, First Lady Melania Trump. Trump himself is the son of an immigrant mother from Scotland.
Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation
- Reuters/Carlos Barria
Elaine Chao has served as Trump’s secretary of transportation since January 2017. She was born in Taipei, Taiwan – the oldest of six daughters – and immigrated to the US with her family when she was eight years old. She became a naturalized US citizen at age 19.
Chao previously served as US labor secretary for all eight years of President George W. Bush’s administration.
Mercedes Schlapp, White House Director of Strategic Communications
Mercedes Schlapp is a longtime Republican operative who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, as a lobbyist, and served on the board of the National Rifle Association before joining the Trump White House.
Schlapp was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Her father was imprisoned for six years in Cuba after helping plot an assassination of then-leader Fidel Castro.
Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Seema Verma has served as Trump’s administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since March 2017.
She previously worked for then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, helping design the state’s insurance system for low-income residents. She also founded and ran health policy consulting firm SVC Inc.
Verma was born in Virginia after her parents emigrated from India, and grew up around the country and the world – from Joplin, Missouri to Taiwan.
Alexander Acosta, secretary of labor
Alexander Acosta was confirmed as Trump’s secretary of labor in April 2017.
The former dean of Florida International University College of Law and former US attorney was born and raised in Miami, Florida by immigrant parents from Cuba.
First Lady Melania Trump
Melania Trump is perhaps the most powerful immigrant in the White House. The first lady and former model, born Melania Knauss, moved to New York from Slovenia in 1996 when she was 26 years old.
In 2001, while dating Donald Trump, she received a green card under the EB-1 program, receiving what is sometimes called the “Einstein visa,” which grants legal status to those who can prove “sustained national and international acclaim.”
Melania sponsored legal residency for her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who became US citizens in August 2018 under the “chain migration” policy, the family-based immigration program that President Trump has long condemned.