November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
5 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. Vic

    Come on people. Are you just like McCain? Desperate? What a bunch the Repubs are! New depths....to sink to...sad

    Leave the old lady alone and get on with more important things.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. Thebe

    Nice try, lol. The Palin's pallin' around with AIP is NEWS, not this.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  3. Chuck

    Who the hell cares. This is not even close to an issue.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. KLEE

    and who do you have in the family tree that you can't do anything about?? boy howdy – i sure do! besides what has this to do with anything pressing our country right now.....lots of us live in public housing and everyone is related – by what the 7th degree of separation – now thats a spiritual thought. amen

    OBAMA/BIDEN

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. D

    This has nothing to do with picking on someone. All of the Lib Dems out there that want Obama and his policies, can remain quiet during the next 4 years. You asked for him, you got him... When he raises YOUR taxes and that money goes to (the operative word here is "illegal") people living in our country for health care, housing and whatever else, you should be more than willing to open your wallets. Also, you will not have any reason to complain when YOU can not get the services that you need. So, just to point out... With Winter approaching, our streets are filled with homeless Veterans who have served our Country, yet you are more willing to provide a home and resources to someone who was here and is STILL here illegally.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. Chico

    And this bit of information has to do with Obamas campaign how??
    This is expected a week before elections seeing as how the Republicans have been running this race so far....on hatred and innuendo and rumor.....how about we talk about the oh-so-many skeletons in McCain's so called closet of his 13 homes.....

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. Carol

    Relevance? To anything? Although it does have some entertainment value – seeing the responses from the McCain supporters dumb enough to buy the whole fear-tactic thing... These are the same people drooling on themselves over a VP pick who doesn't even have a basic understanding of the Constitution and a fake plumber who's a tax cheat...

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  8. Becky Montgomery

    I am SO much more concerned about the accurate reporting of our votes. We do not want another election stolen so the criminals that have already stolen money and elections can be protected.

    CNN, concentrate on the honesty and validity of vote reporting.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. Patrick

    This has no bearing on the election at all....it is unfortunate that all news agencies consider this news. Whether you like Mr Obama or not, this is NOT election criteria. I'm sick and tired of hearing news that does nothing but slander the Presidential nominees. Let's talk about real issues.....not relatives or plumbers. That is a major problem in our country.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. Mac Texas

    Just another effort to smear. The Republicans have lied so much now that no one believes anything they say. Remember the Muslim
    lies? Remember the birth certificate lies? I'm sure this one will be proved wrong just like the others were. Who cares anyway?

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. JAF

    Oh PLEASE!!! The AP just happens to find this out the weekend before the election? (Like the AP has and reputation for reliability anymore.) And of course CNN, who has lost any sense of journalistic responsibility and reports whatever anyone says (and then has to apologize for it later) slaps it right on the ticker. And the media in this country are still so self-important... how absurd!

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. GIVE PEACE A CHANCE, VOTE A STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET!

    Quick, Repetilians, tell us how this will bring the very foundation of America to it's knees.

    And yes, we already know it is some sinister plot to populate the U.S. with subverisve elderly women from Kenya, and yes we realize those $5 and $25 contributions she made if definite proof she is aiding and abetting him in buying the Presidency.

    Call the the National Guard, throw her in Gitmo and abuse her civil rights like everyone else in that suspended state liberty

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. Faithlyn

    Republicans will dig and dig to find every dirty politics out there to prove a point at this minute. Stop and think as smart analytical citizen for once!!! What does Obama has to do with a relative if she entered this country illegally? He is not immigration!!! Give the man a chance to get to his final destination. The time you all have to be generatomg these negative points and what she did in her contribution, you all should have contributed to McCain campaign so he could have a more sturdy finanal setting so he could drive some positive adds out there. It is pointless at his time when we all need CHANGE

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. getagrip

    CNN, the new place for Republican slime and red herrings–do you think this is responsible reporting about a man about to make history and better the United States and the world? This trying to stir up sensational reactions to scoop competitors will guarantee I get my news elsewhere. When Obama is elected, you'll be at the front of the line praising the incredibly great accomplishment this will be for our country!
    Shame on you guys!

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. BM

    What about McCain who cheated on his first crippled wife? Report that CNN? Report his ties to G. Liddy if you dare!

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Republican who voted for Obama/Biden on October 20th

    Palin and her husband "the First Dude" don't even want Alaska part of the USA. CNN put the video of Palin on the web site for all to see. Also, put what the AIP stands for.

    The Republican Party does need Joe, "the Plumber" because it has gone down the drain – toilet.

    We must elect Barack Obama and Joe, "the Biden" to clean up Bush/McCain/Chaney mess.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Thank you CNN. It is nice to actually have the news media report items instead of hammering on McCain. Nothing like voting for someone who is OK with illegal immigration. Oh and hey come here illegally, live in public housing, get food stamps and free medical care that will help my taxes. But wait that is right, that is what Obama wants for everyone. Socialism is a scary place to go.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. jo

    Ok cnn report MAYBE news.. you can applie deportation does not mean you are illegal.. learn how to report news. Same way you destroyed hillary.

    Mccain is toast. Give it up. The guy is losing arizona

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Tex,

    Unnecesary sensationalism and useless information.Sounded like Lou Dobb's childish obsession and incurable phobia's. Or is this the october surprise!!

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. KNOWWHAT?

    Now Obama is contributing to the illegal alien issue? Did they JUST find this out last night? Throw enough crap on the wall and some of it is bound to stick huh? NIXON, REAGAN, BUSH, BUSH - Republican leadership have dominated my lifetime. And see how their leadership has impacted the world. Look at the state of our country and our our world. I know the Republicans love power, love exclusive power to the inclusion of NO ONE but themselves, but my question is: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. Dee

    It seems very irresponsible to run this story. He has not been a part of their lives & this isnt fair to this poor elderly woman. You dont know what her story is , so leave the woman alone!

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. Lisa

    I am sick of these crazy people asking Obama about his citizenship. How dare you ask Obama to prove he is a citizenship, you prove yours.

    These people have nothing better to do. President Bush is putting people out of food, home, and basic health care. We need a change in America.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    November 1, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Is it over yet?

    Unbelievable that the flaming liberals don't see a problem with having an illegal immigrant in the country and allowing her to get FREE housing from the U.S. government....irregardless of the connection to Obama. Send her back to Kenya.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. Lisa

    The implication here is that Senator Obama is responsible for the actions of his aunt, a half sister of his father whom Obama barely knew. If this is news, then surely we should be scrutinizing the extended families of Senator McCain as well. Cousins, aunts, uncles, any half siblings... this is getting truly ridiculous.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. Sam

    John - Investigate OBAMA's true place of birth?? How about investigate McCain's true place of birth you hypocrite. At least Obama was born in the 50 states.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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