After evidence arose Thursday that Melania Trump may have been working illegally during her first years in the US — including while she and Donald Trump were dating — we asked a dozen of the candidate's most ardent supporters what they thought about it.
A quick bit of background:
Melania's immigration status was called into question this week after nude photographs of her modeling in the US in 1995 were published in a New York tabloid — a year before she had previously said she arrived in the US.
The discrepancy drew attention to other potential holes in her immigration story, including descriptions she gave in interviews of having obtained a visa from 1996 until 2001, during her modeling career, that probably would not have allowed her to work legally in the US.
At a campaign rally Thursday in Portland, Maine, the vast majority of the candidate's supporters who spoke with BuzzFeed News said Trump's tough stance on immigrants was one of their primary reasons for supporting him.
If Melania Trump did in fact work illegally in the US for the first few years she lived here, it would not affect their vote, supporters said.
"I haven't heard about this before, but it's not true," one woman said. "'But if, but if...'" she said, imitating BuzzFeed News' question. "It doesn't matter anyway."
"That's not the issue, the issue is safety," her friend added. Both women declined to provide their names.
Patrick, 25, said he was fine with "Europeans coming here," legally or illegally. He would not say who he was not okay with.
Nearby, other Trump supporters filled in Patrick's silence, saying "Europeans aren't killing us," and condemning "the terrorist Muslim state."
Patrick concluded his statement saying, "I'm pretty down with Western civilization."
Alex, an 18-year-old voter, said Melania's immigration status wouldn't matter to him because it was in the past. "Hillary used to be a Republican," he said, referring to Clinton's stance in her early college years. "Donald Trump used to be a Democrat — things change!"
Mike Nelson, 25, said the media "shouldn't pick on Trump's wife" when "Obama has gotten a pass" on proving he was born in the US. "Some people think it's crazy," Nelson added, "but we've seen no definitive proof."
Danielle, who said she legally immigrated from Canada and married an American, said she would have no problem backing Donald Trump if it turned out his wife had worked in the US illegally. "That's not what concerns me," she said. "What concerns me is... child trafficking, people coming here and we don't know who they are."
Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ema O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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