November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama's aunt may be illegal immigrant

Sen. Obama visited Kenya, his father's birthplace, in 2006. The Associated Press has reported that a paternal aunt of Obama's is living in the U.S. illegally.
Sen. Obama visited Kenya, his father's birthplace, in 2006. The Associated Press has reported that a paternal aunt of Obama's is living in the U.S. illegally.

(CNN) – A member of Barack Obama's Kenyan family living in the United States is facing a possible immigration issue: the Associated Press reports that an aunt he speaks about in his memoirs is living in the United States illegally.

The AP says she remain in government housing in Boston, even though an immigration judge denied her request for asylum four years ago.

Zeituni Onyango's refusal to leave the country would be an administrative violation, not a criminal matter.

CNN has not been able to independently verify her immigration status.

The Obama campaign has not yet responded to a CNN request for comment.

Obama called the woman "Aunt Zeituni" in his memoirs, where he described her as the first Kenyan relative he encountered on his visit to his father's home country.

Onyango has donated at least five times to Obama's campaign in July and September, listing her occupation as a "volunteer resident health advocate." Federal campaign finance records indicate several contributions in amounts of $5 and $25.

Updated 11:37 a.m.: Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, issued the following statement in response to the AP's reporting about Sen. Obama's aunt: "Senator Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws be followed. "

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soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. Politically Speaking

    CNN, this is disgusting. You've lost one viewer.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. kathy

    oh great thats all we need another illegal immigrant
    taking our us benefits. That is what is going to happen
    obama is going to give all illegal immigrants Drivers
    License and they will get to draw our Society Security
    that we americans have worked for all our lives but
    to OBAMA that is sharing the WEALth. Don't care what
    the poles say the vote will come on Nov.4th.

    Go MCCain
    A democrat voting for republican

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  3. anonymous

    Who cares?

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  4. Bob

    With so many Americans losing their homes, how is it that "illegal aliens" are in government housing?
    QUOTE: "The AP says she remain in government housing in Boston, even though an immigration judge denied her request for asylum four years ago.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  5. SINA

    Like Dick Chaney would say; So?

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  6. Fred, So. St Paul MN

    Once again another reason THIS GUY SCARES ME. Why hasn't this come up before. The Dems are so entriged by hi speachs and he cant even secure our border angainst illegals. This guy is a JOKE

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. Max from NY

    Ask John McCain how many illegal immigrants it takes to landscape 7 houses. Maybe Sarah Palin's witch doctor Reverend Mutha chased her out of Kenya. Maybe this just doesn't matter. Leave the poor woman alone.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  8. Mitch

    Is she appealing? What is the big picture? Seems like a non-story since she isnt' involved with his campaign. If this has been going on for 4 years....it would be a Republican president shortcoming.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. Independent62

    The point is she exemplifies the following:

    1) She is here illegally
    2) Her entire subsistence depends on tax-payers (her six hour work week doesn't exactly cut it)
    3) She proves the point that illegal aliens DO receive welfare
    4) Obama only wants to by "thy brother and sisters keeper" with taxpayer money, not his
    5) Obama used her in his book for his own benefit...certainly not hers

    In a nutshell, his aunt's existence represents everything he wants for all Americans...a subsistence on government handouts provided though REDISTRIBUTIVE policies, i.e., socialism.

    I know liberals can't think analytically, but give it a try for once.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Donna in Michigan

    Not news worthy... Obama/Biden 08! Only 3 more days!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. MissMarple

    Is this the most important news that is happening in the world today? Why on earth does this rate a headline? I have been a fan of CNN for many years, but I am beginning to doubt their veracity. I won't even watch Lou Dobbs or Wolf Blitzer anymore.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. Lola

    Thanks for reporting this "BREAKING NEWS" CNN!

    I hope the story is true, it will sure help Obama with the Latino vote. They can relate to, and can sympathize with Aunt Zeituni's plight.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08!!

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. Marty

    SO what if she is an old lady, follow the law! Obama should have known better and put her up elsewhere prior to the election to cover his tracks.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. Time to move on

    Infact McCain just want to make big election about small things.
    So what happens to millions of illegal immigrants.
    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. fred

    give me a break...Obama is a citizen, this has been vetted to the exstream but I guess not enough for the racist right that just can't fathom a person of color as president. What his Aunt's status has to do with him is beyond me. McCain has so much baggage that has not been talked about because it's more "news worthy" to dig up
    stuff on Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. Scott from Boston

    The only thing this does is give the rasists that weren't going to vote for Obama and excuse.

    This is clearly from McCain's camp. it's time for the Dems to really start to push the fact that the Navy is covering up a fatal accident McCain was involved in back in the 60's involving drinking and driving. how about talking about Cindy McCain lobbying against Mothers Against Drunk Driving?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/28/news-orgs-investigate-pos_n_138449.html

    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/22/nation/na-hensley22

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  17. Jazzi

    Now Post this comment!

    CNN.. This is ridiculous that you would report on this. Obama barely knew his father's family. Also, why has CNN not reported on Todd Palin's membership in the Alaska Independence Party ( AIP). Now that would be news. I am no longer a fan on CNN.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. RM

    Give this a issue a big rest since this happen 4 years ago.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  19. AZ Dave

    Hillaryous .... CNN can't verify the truth of the story or not but Fox News did .... you leftists are an amazing culture of bacteria ... funny as hell ....

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  20. Stan

    Why aren't we looking into McCain's place of birth? I don't recall him being born in any of the 50 states...

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  21. Fatal Blow

    Independent Dope,

    Can you please post the evidence

    Oh I forgot, you dont have any?

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  22. Setys

    Who cares CNN? Very low news.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  23. Anita of georgia

    Obama, did'nt learn anything about his relatives in Africa until he was a full grown man. His father was not in his life when he grew up. He was raised by his family on his mother side. He's like most people that has family they know nothing about, they have the desire to understand and know about the other half of the missing parent. He not a private Investigator, so he didn't look into her past, to determine whether she's here legally. All he know is his father, came over the legal way, why not think the same from his Aunt, he never grew up with. Is there anyone that knows everything about their relatives, and most likely you've been knowing them and around them all your life. So don't expect him to know every aspect of her life. Is there anyone of you willing to put your life on the line, to say you know all things about your family members. If you are, you might have to kiss the world goodbye. Is this the belated October surprise?

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  24. JCS

    Absurd that a news organization that aims to be so widely read and respected would report such an inflammatory story at the 11th hour. More 'drudging' over a non-event.

    Seriously, what does this have to do with Obama? What could he do, even if this were true? I personally am not responsible for the actions of my aunt. I doubt there are many nephews who are.

    Fortunately, I'm also not responsible for CNN, which has slipped appreciably in my estimation. There once was integrity in journalism.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  25. Desperation

    Another sign of desperation...

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
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