Was Melania Trump Once an Undocumented Immigrant? Spokeswoman Denies Claim as Questions Resurface

President Donald Trump's strict immigration policies, including a "zero tolerance" approach that has resulted in the separation of families at the southern border, have once more raised questions over whether his wife, Melania Trump, was at one point undocumented and benefited from programs her husband condemns.

“Has [Melania] ever been undocumented at any point?” https://t.co/aUJL7N0BRw

— Kate Brannen (@K8brannen) June 24, 2018

I think it's important for everyone to know that MELANIA TRUMP was once undocumented and illegally working in the U.S. as a model. https://t.co/4fW4sP2yl4

— Matt Rogers 🗳 (@Politidope) June 18, 2018

The first lady's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham on Monday denied that Melania ever came to the United States from Slovenia illegally, or stayed without proper documentation.

Related: First Lady Melania Liked 'Einstein Visa' Tweet With Video Criticizing President Trump

"Mrs. Trump followed the law at all times and entered the country legally," Grisham told Newsweek in an email.

Michael Wildes, an immigration attorney for the first lady and her family, provided Newsweek with a similar comment on Tuesday.

"Mrs. Trump was always in lawful immigration status from her professional work visa, unto her Green Card and is now a U.S. citizen," Wildes wrote in an email. "The government fully vetted her status at each station."

But bits of information the Trumps and the first lady's attorney have uttered in the past about her immigration background have raised questions among immigration experts.

Days before the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press reported that Melania Trump was paid more than $20,000 for 10 modeling jobs in the U.S. seven weeks before she obtained a work visa in October 1996.

Another inconsistency is that Wildes in August 2016 told Univision that Melania Trump got her green card "based on marriage" in 2001, but there was no indication that she'd been in a marriage before tying the knot with Donald Trump in 2005.

A month later, Wildes, in a letter that Melania Trump shared on Twitter, backtracked on his comment to the television station. He wrote, "Mrs. Trump did not receive her green card through marriage. Rather, in 2000, she self-sponsored herself for a green card as a model of 'extraordinary ability,' and on March 19, 2001, she was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident."


— MELANIA TRUMP (@MELANIATRUMP) September 14, 2016

Immigration attorneys and experts said it was unlikely that Melania Trump, a former model who appeared mostly in catalogs and ads, qualified for the elite EB-1 program reserved for applicants with "an extraordinary ability."

Donald Trump, during a rally in North Carolina in August 2016, claimed that his wife "came in totally legally" and promised that she would hold a press conference to explain her immigration background.

"They said my wife, Melania, might have come in illegally. Can you believe that one?" Donald Trump said at the time. "Let me tell you one thing. She has got it so documented, so she's going to have a little news conference over the next couple of weeks. That's good. I love it. I love it."

U.S. first lady Melania Trump boards an Air Force plane before traveling to Texas to visit facilities that house and care for children taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, on June 21. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

However, the news conference never materialized.

As much of the country reacted with outrage to reports of the treatment migrant children have received, Melania Trump found herself amid the controversy. In a statement last week through Grisham, Melania Trump said she "hates to see children separated from their families," but sparked an outcry a few days later by wearing a "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" jacket on her way to a child detention center.

This story has been updated with a comment from immigration attorney Wildes.