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. Cynthia a conservative voter

    Well folks, it continues. McCain & Palin will keep up the negative personal attacks in order to keep the focus off the isues which they do not have answers to solve the problems that we as Americans face. McCain & Palin want to keep our minds as voters off the issues, because Obama does spell out plans and solutions and McCain & Palin don't have any plans or solutions so they go negative with personal attacks. Well, just a few more days, then McCain & Palin will go down in history as losers. Not just losers of this election, but as losers of any integrity they might have had.

    November 1, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Brina

    What does this have to do with Obama? Did he sneak her into the country?

    November 1, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. KAZEEM

    I do not think this will affect the election outcome at allllll.please CNN i love your station please stop this now
    kazzimm FROM UK

    November 1, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Trish

    Oh what's the matter you Obama nuts? MY how the comments change when something negative comes out about a negative topic related to Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. vic

    why do you guys have a problem with comments from canada – you are constantly deleting my comments day after day. I am emailing CNN about this. Your biased and we are neighbors.

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. alreadyvotedobama

    Who cares? Leave the poor woman alone...jerks! She's just trying to make it like everyone else! How dare you! Disgust! November 4th can't get here quick enough!
    Obama-Biden

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. dmichelle

    Come on CNN. This does not have anything to do with the important issues at hand. Remember McCain, the seed you sow, so shall you reap! You keep sowing these awful seeds! Harvest time is coming for you and your camp!

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. Brenda

    correction: Last sentence.
    What does this say for us?

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Patrick Swanson

    They can throw at him whatever they want, they can spin it however they want, Tucker Bonds can go on hundreds of shows raging again as long as he wants to, it won't matter this time.

    This time hope wins over fear.

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Fedup Up with Republicans

    Wow, another attempt by the most despicable people in America (namely, anonymous Republican operatives) to introduce an unsubstantiated claim (much like the "Joe the Plumber", tax-evading fraud).

    Frankly, if CNN were being responsible, they would have waited for proof of this claim.

    Ultimately, what does this have to do with McCain/Palin being unfit to run this country. With McCain/Palin running the most fear-mongering, hate-filled, dishonorable campain in American history.

    Something of this nature dropped into the news stream 3 days before a Presidential election smells of the sewer from which most Republican operatives have originated.

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. pella sayi

    send her back to kenya,their is available food in kenya

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  12. andreas

    How low can you go, you jerks! You will know when your feet start burning!

    November 1, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  13. Patriot

    Boy, McCain's "Smear Mongers" are really getting desperate at the 11th hour, aren't they? Is this all they've got?

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  14. SoCal

    How sad this kind of thing ends up in the news, with Republicans making a case about it... As if this had anything to do with real issues.

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  15. Nik

    CNN – And you saw it necessary to report something like this? Your intent is clearly shady.

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  16. Joe Taxpayer

    Last I heard Hawaii is in the USA, and was when he was born there.

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  17. Diver Dan

    I like puppies because they are soft and gentle. I really like them.

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  18. pablo

    good news that Obama has an aunt who wants to be in America, not like the Palins who want their state to secede from the US!

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. WoWanda

    Well, the ACORN doesn't fall far from the tree. It's obvious this family has little respect for the law .

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. Linda D. from Carrollton

    as many illegal people that live here from other countries namely south of the texas border and they want to focus on this one person.

    November 1, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. BM

    No Black American ask to come here! We were forced and therefore, we have more right to be here than anyone else. After all, we helped to build this country with our blood, sweat and tears. Report this for all the bigots out there!

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. mitchell

    So, Obama doesn't help his Aunt, doesn't care about his brother, but you think he is going to care about you? He is a senator that uses this woman in his book, but can't use his pull for a greencard, or get her a job and out of a slum. This says all you need about who he is...

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. Stephy

    yeah... so
    Im sorry but how does that relate to the job I just lost because of company layoff?

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. On the home stretch

    Yet another desperate and meaningless distracion from the real issues that matter to Americans. My vote goes to Obama-Biden.

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. SBAMA

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

    So she isn't hiding, she is trying to becom legal...

    Why are we talking about her and not the 10000000000000000000
    mexican in this country hiding an dnot trying to become legal?

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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