Former first lady Melania Trump delivered a speech on Friday at a naturalization ceremony, encouraging new US citizens to embrace their journey.
Melania, born in Slovenia and maintaining a low profile since her time as first lady, spoke at the National Archives in Washington, where she urged the audience to be proud and face the opportunities that lie ahead.
Reflecting on her own naturalization in 2006, Melania shared, “My personal experience of traversing the challenges of the immigration process opened my eyes to the harsh realities people face, including you, who try to become US citizens.” Her choice of venue raised eyebrows, given the ongoing legal scrutiny surrounding classified records and Donald Trump’s tough stance on migrants.
Melania’s appearance contrasts with her husband’s strong immigration policies, as Donald Trump, vying for the 2024 presidential race, has centered much of his political career on immigration issues. Despite his tough stance, Melania, in her short speech, emphasized her immediate connection to the United States upon arriving in 1996, declaring her intention to make it her permanent home.
Having largely stayed out of the public eye during Donald Trump’s legal battles and 2024 campaign efforts, Melania’s address comes as a surprise. The invitation to speak at the ceremony was extended by archivist Colleen Shogan, who had worked with Melania during her time as first lady.
Melania’s history as the first foreign-born first lady since 1825 has added a unique dimension to her public appearances. Notably, in 2020, she delivered a well-received speech at the Republican Party convention, addressing the impact of COVID-19 and sharing her immigrant story in a plea for racial harmony.
As the 2024 presidential race looms and polls suggest a close competition, Melania Trump, with her unusual public engagement, adds a distinctive element to the political landscape. The former first lady, who caused a stir in 2018 during a visit to the US-Mexico border, continues to be a figure of interest and curiosity.