Former first lady Melania Trump made a rare public appearance on Friday to deliver a speech at a naturalization ceremony as 25 immigrants were sworn in as American citizens.
The Slovenian-born former model, who became a US citizen in 2006, has made few public appearances since the Trump presidency, though last month she attended the memorial service for former first lady Rosalynn Carter in Atlanta.
Donald Trump, who is running to win back the White House in next year’s election, has staked much of his political career on being tough on migrants, and her choice of event raised eyebrows in Washington.
Ahead of Friday’s address, Melania’s office said in a statement that “as a naturalized citizen herself, Mrs. Trump looks forward to telling her story and being part of this momentous occasion for these new American citizens.”
CNN reported that she had been invited to address the ceremony at the National Archives in Washington by US Archivist Colleen Shogan, who worked at the White House Historical Association during Melania Trump’s time as first lady.
Melania, 53, has remained largely absent as the former president has appeared in court multiple times in recent months to fight legal cases against him and as he cranks up his 2024 election campaign.
In 2020, she gave a well-received speech at the Republican Party convention, speaking compassionately about coronavirus victims and recalling her own immigrant story in an appeal for racial harmony.