Was Donald Trump’s Mother an Undocumented Immigrant?

Though her citizenship status was apparently incorrectly documented in the 1940 United States census, no evidence suggests Donald Trump's mother was ever in violation of any immigration laws prior to her naturalization in 1942.

  • Published 30 January 2017

Claim

Mary Anne MacLeod, President Donald Trump’s mother, illegally immigrated to the United States in 1929.

Rating

Origin

Due to President Donald Trump’s strong stance on immigration, both during his presidential campaign and in the executive orders issued during in the early days of his presidency, questions regarding the naturalization of his mother (a Scottish immigrant named Mary Anne Macleod) have become increasingly frequent:

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MacLeod’s early life was described as follows in a June 2016 New Yorker profile:

Mary Anne MacLeod was born on May 10, 1912. Her father, Malcolm, was a fisherman on the remote Isle of Lewis, and he and his wife, Mary Smith, raised a large brood of children. [Her hometown of] Tong is still dominated by fishing and, increasingly, tourism, and many extended MacLeod relatives live in the area.

Passenger manifests suggest that Mary Anne’s first visit to the United States took place on 2 Dec 1929, with the start of a longer stay following her arrival on 17 May 1930:

1929-manifest
1930-manifest

By at least 1933, Macleod had officially declared her intent to live in the United States, as attested to in the manifest of a voyage that appeared to be a return trip to her childhood home, in which the box for “intended country of future residence” was listed as “foreign” (i.e., outside of the United Kingdom):

tripbackhome-1933

At some point during the mid-1930s, as reported in the New Yorker, Mary Anne she met a young builder named Frederick Trump, whom she married in 1936:

In the thirties, MacLeod reportedly met Frederick Christ Trump at a dance, and the two fell in love, according to a 2005 profile of the Trump family in Real Estate Weekly, although it has been disputed whether she was living in the United States at the time or just visiting. Fred Trump was a builder, having started a construction business while he was still in high school. By the late twenties, he was selling single-family houses in Queens for $3,990 each. Fred Trump and Mary MacLeod married in 1936 and settled in Jamaica, Queens, at the time a haven for Western European immigrants.

The fact that Mary Anne MacLeod was both an immigrant and later a naturalized citizen is not controversial. There is ample documentation (discussed above, and in myriad other passenger manifests) that she entered and left the United States with the required visas multiple times throughout the 1930s with no documented problems. Her 10 March 1942 naturalization certificate, issued by New York’s Eastern District Court, is included below (behind paywall):

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 1.54.14 PM

Any lasting controversy on this topic boils down to a 1940 census document which lists Mary as being both the wife of Frederick Trump as well as a naturalized citizen, despite the fact that she was not granted citizenship until 1942. That document (behind a paywall), which has an “X” next to her name indicating that she was the one providing the census with her family’s information, has the letters “Na” entered in the citizenship status box, indicating “naturalized”:

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 2.27.05 PM

While we can provide no explanation for the discrepancy, there is no evidence to suggest that Mary Anne was in violation of any immigration laws at any time prior to her naturalization in 1942, as she frequently traveled internationally but was able to re-enter the U.S. afterwards.

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