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. park more - New orleans

    Obama calls her 'Aunti Zeituni,' and she's been living in Boston public housing, but immigration officials reportedly say his Kenyan relative is in U.S. illegally

    You think we can trust him and he will care about American People... he did not care about his relative...... I am democrat and outrage with this guy and I am voting McCain even if I do not like it

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Scully

    Who would have thought that the October moment would come in November?

    I think that this is an appropriate reason to cancel the election and start all over, don't you? Or, just declare McCain/Palin the winners and be done with it.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  3. Michael

    I am appalled that CNN and other news agencies are reporting on this "non-news" news. This is the same rubbish that is headlining Drudge and Townahall, which are very far right. I lost my job, the economy is the worst my parents have seen, we have global emergencies including 2 wars we are in, and this is news? Shame on CNN and any simpleton that takes this as a salient issue.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  4. deme

    And what about Cindy McCain's sister??? She(Cindy) claims she is an only child.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. Victoria

    LEAVE THE OLD LADY ALONE GUYS COME ON....IS THAT ALL WE HAVE TO DO. COME ON DEMOCRATS!

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. Bra Rick

    What are you up to CNN?

    An imminent LANDSLIDE? Uhm...not so interesting for CNN.

    Could mean an early night on Nov. 4.

    So John (King), Drew (Griffin) let's dig up all the dirt and promote the anti Obama side a bit to spice things up a bit.

    First MAJOR NEWS item of the day on the ticker for Nov. 1. Why not make it the breaking news item of the morning as well – it's not too late yet.

    Come on guys...this has been on the other network notorious for the anti Obama sentiments for the last week or so....What else?????

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. ATLStompin!

    CNN I am astonished that you would post such a trivial story. First of all, she is not his full-blooded aunt. Second of all, hasn't she been living in the US for umpteen years? Why all of a sudden does this become "news"? I might be able to see how this would be relevant if Obama himself aided her to the US, but she came freely like so many other "illegal" immigrants who want to free themselves from the oppression and depression they experience in the home countries. I don't support the notion of having illegal immigrants in the US, but for those who have been here living a productive life free of criminal activity I do believe there should be a path to citizenship extended to them.

    What I also believe is that stories like this incite more division in politics because they truly tend to be more gossip-based then actual news. I watch CNN pretty much all day every day when I am off as I am a huge fan of Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room, David Gergan and Campbell Brown but this non-story leaves me to question CNN's judgment for attempting to turn gossip into news without speaking directly with the people involved. The decision to do this just may cause unnecessary harm to Obama's chance to change the dynamics of American politics.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. sunshine

    If we dig into Obama's details we would have more and more surprises. What he would do for illegal Immigrants his own aunt is illegal immigrant and no status. i would not vote for a person who would mention people in the book does not help to get a status.
    As being a human being he should have helped his aunt to get a status. He is so self oriented and never cared for his family. Oh! He cares for his grandma just for white votes.
    He is not trust worthy and a he is a FLIP FLOP. Lets see what he is going to respond.

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. RM

    What John McCain who was born in Panama was he born in a US facility there or in another hospital outside the base? And this is according to his information.

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. Sean

    this is such a stupid news. I am a republican but I won't vote this year. HOwever this news is so stupid and I wonder why CNN a respected name in News is blogging this. Bunch of Gossipers. Maybe this is what the modern news media is all about, blogging stuff like The people magazines, enquirer and all the rest gossipy magazines. Shame on you cnn. This is so silly.

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Robert Wooller Bradford England

    The McCain campaign will dig anything up in the next few days. They are obsessed with power and will do anything to destroy Obama in the next few days before the election. I hope Obama wins. Everyone knows things will get even worse if Bush 2 wins on Tuesday.

    Obama-Biden 2008!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. obama backer

    I can smell Campbell Brown behind this. She'll defend Caribou's wardrobe expenses though. And I thought she was in the middle. Yeah sure.

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. Joe

    Obama will turn his back on this one and pretend he did not know anything. What gives his family the right to stay here illegally over others that have been deported. Breaking promises and breaking laws. Those are great qualities for a President.

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. dEMOBRAT

    You liberals are absolutely incredulous.

    Tell me why a presidential nominee having an ILLEGAL resident for an aunt who DONATED to his campaign is NOT NEWS.

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. dantini

    As long as McCain has not proven that he was not brainwashed in POW camp and placed in a position of power as a "Manchurian Candidate," this story is completely irrelevant. America cannot afford a brainwashed Chinese-controlled puppet as President! For the sake of God and country, Obama must be elected. I pray that no American follows the will of Communist China and votes for McCain! We cannot allow Godless Communist China to pick America's President.

    Ok, that's what many of you McCain supporters sound like at this point, just so you can understand...

    November 1, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Di

    CNN has lost all integrity. CNN should not write/say a WORD about a story regarding one candidate's relative unless they also mention all of the other Candidate's relatives.

    1. That means writing IN THE SAME STORY about Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter and about her son being convicted for vandalizing school buses. THEN it means blaming Palin.

    2. That Means writing IN THE SAME STORY about Cindy McCaina) being a drug addict, b) stealing drugs from her own charity, c) denying the existence of her sister and not sharing her millions with her, d)having an affair with a married man (John McCain) and e) Cindy McCain lying about numerous things repeatedly. (Mother Teresa, Rwanda, Cookies). Then it means blaming Palin for it.

    What is worse, being an illegal immigrant who has been denied asylum OR being a drug addict who has robbed a charity? If that's the comparison than McCain is worse than Obama because his wife is worse than Obama's aunt.

    If you're going to play this game, play it fairly and apply this to both sides. .

    Also, think about how you're destroying this old woman's life and then try to sleep it night.

    I'm now boycotting CNN.

    November 1, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. nina

    First of all, to the person questioning Obama's citizenship, it's already been proven.
    Why don't you question McCain on the same subject? He wasn't born in the U.S. He was born in Panama.

    Secondly, CNN, this is a non-story. Why not report on something important, you know, like all the problems occuring with the machines when pple are voting, Like pple clicking Obama, and it goes to McCain. What about the letter that went out in a state that told voting day for Republicans is Nov 4th and Democrats are to vote Nov 5th. Those are stories that actually pertain to this election.
    Why not focus on something relevant and very important? Like pple's rights.

    November 1, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. blaising

    Well... at least that's better than your aunt actually being your SISTER, like Palin's inbred clan!!

    November 1, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. Will, Houston

    If McSame is counting on this to be his big "surprise," he might want to dig a little more deeply into his bag. Much ado about nothing. . . .

    November 1, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. Chuck

    Hey, CNN

    I've been a fan of yours all my life. Why do you see a need to report this insignificant little scoop three days before the election. Do you feel that you're running behind "Faux News" in the ratings? Is this why?.

    November 1, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. Richard Chicago

    CNN, shame on you! Are the Republicans giving you money to run any piece of tripe you can find on Obama? GIVE IT A REST! SHAME ON YOU

    November 1, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  22. Carl from MI

    Stop the presses!!! Hold everything!! Republicans finally found evidence of Obama recieveing campaign donations from a foreign national!! Finally... proof that Obama takes in money from terrorists from overseas!!! (Since Obama pals around with terrorists, I cleverly deduced he must come from a family of terrorists... thus making his own Aunt an terrorist!!)

    I'm sure his Aunt's donation's of $50 was what enable Obama to be able to buy that spot on network TV for his Infomercial... without that $50, Obama's campaign wouldn't have been able to advertise in Arizona or North Carolina either.

    It's amazing what $50 will buy you nowdays... ACCORDING TO THE REPUBLICANS!!!!

    WAKE UP, AMERICA!!! VOTE SMART.... NOT SENILE

    November 1, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. Obamanic

    Please stop moderating my comments?

    Where is the CNN investigation into Palin and the AIC? McCain and G Gordon Liddy's relationship? McCain's refusal to release info on his time in North Vietnam?

    CNN has done everything it can to keep the election close so that there is a story to tell.

    November 1, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. Phylipz

    Now isn't this SPECIAL?! His half-aunt, whatever that is – and he hasn't had a real relationship with his father's family anyway? Does he even know the lady? How about Cindy McCain having a sister, born and raised here and she never even acknowledged the lady -even at her time of death. Talk about family values...

    November 1, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. zack

    Now we know obaa is an honest man.He can easily obtain citizenship for his aunt.Sae on you Cnn.

    November 1, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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