Michael Wildes, immigration lawyer to the stars, is in the news this week after successfully helping the parents of First Lady Melania Trump claim US Citizenship. What has caught most of the media attention is the way it was done – using a policy President Donald Trump has long railed against known as “chain migration.”
What has not been so widely reported is that when Wildes is not helping the rich and famous navigate America’s byzantine immigration laws, he has a sideline as a successful Democratic politician. This November, in fact, he is the party’s nominee for mayor of Englewood, New Jersey!
Michael Wildes: “I have stood up against the President”
As reported in the New York Times yesterday, two Slovenian immigrants named Viktor and Amalija Knavs successfully claimed their US citizenship thanks to help from Wildes. The couple, who just happen to be the parents of the First Lady Melania Trump, were sponsored by their daughter under the Family Reunification policy. Awkwardly for the Knavs, it is a policy their son-in-law calls “chain migration” and has repeatedly condemned in public.
CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE! pic.twitter.com/PQGeTTdRtX
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
But awkwardly for the President, Wildes is not only helping his in-laws using one of his most-hated policies. He is also publicly critical the President’s immigration policies in general.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Wildes said, “I believe strongly in the principles of family reunification, which is a bedrock of immigration policy and law and has brought millions of people happily to our shores,”
“I can’t comment on the President’s politics when it comes to my clients but I have stood up against the President’s immigration policies personally.”
Even more damning, Wildes compared the Trump Administration’s failed “zero tolerance” immigration policy to the Nazi Germany in a January Fox & Friends appearance.
Despite his longstanding opposition to the President, Wildes has long worked with members of the Trump family. He represented Mrs Trump, then Melania Knavs, with her own US naturalization in 2006.
Michael Wildes: Democrat running for Mayor
Long before Wildes counted the future First Lady (and other celebrities like Andrew Lloyd Weber, Brazilian soccer legend Pele, and three different Miss Universes) among his clients, Michael Wildes was a New Jersey Democratic Party activist. He was elected to the Englewood City Council in 1998. In 2004 he successfully ran for mayor, and served six years in office before making an unsuccessful bid for the US House in 2012.
Now, six years later, Wildes wants his old as Englewood mayor job back. In the New Jersey primary in June he won the Democratic nomination by an overwhelming margin, and is certain to be a favorite to win in November.
With a population of just over 27,000, the north New Jersey small town is hardly the place to expect a well-connected Democrat to seek the mayoralty (especially for a second time). But Wildes says he feels compelled to run again because of tax increases and financial mismanagement of the city.
And also, even though Wildes is not admitting this in public, mayor’s offices are increasingly popular springboards for higher political office. Several mayors (even from relatively small towns) are even being touted as possible presidential contenders. South Bend, Indiana’s Pete Buttigieg is a prime example.
Could Michael Wildes be planning another tilt at Congress or even higher offices after a second successful stint as Englewood’s mayor?