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. MC

    From these posts, it sure looks like Obama supporters are in a tizzy....my, my, why? Are you worried????

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Jason

    This is the problem with Obama not disclosing small donors who donate less than $200. This aunt was allowed to donate through several donations $260. If small donors were disclosed illegals wouldn't be able to donate.

    The aunt also told the Times of London that she couldn't say anything until after November 4th. This shows Obama's plan for illegals getting driver's licenses and no ICE raids. One of the sources of the story also said he wasn't an Obama or McCain supporter.

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. Chuck

    Hey, Lynne @ 9:13,

    Get a grip on yourself. Your're really trying hard to mislead and misrepresent and falsify and lie, and exagerate on everything that Barack Obama has said. Take a deep breath and reflect on who is running a fair campaign. That fact can never be attributed to McCain and Palin who are perpetually attacking, and attacking, and attacking Obama. McCain and Palin speeches only consist of a noun, a verb, and Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Rave

    I think Sarah Palin, Todd Palin and her entire family of Fakes are not only illegal immigrants of United States, but also Traitors – Since they are the members of Alaska Independence Party. Does anyone in the Media (especially CNN, FOX – the right winged media) have any balls to report this????
    If this family thinks Alaska should be a seperate country, they dont belong to United States of America.
    CNN – I have been expecting this from you in the final days of the election against Mr. Barack Obama. Atleast Fox News is openly Republican...but you are the most Right winged media network in US. You just reached the bottom in terms of Morality and Ethics..by reporting the most ridiculous news of the United States History.

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. Lipstick Wearer for Obama

    This is exactly why I watch MSNBC!

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. Brian

    McCain was not born in the USA. Why do we quesiton Obama

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. TAINOPOWER

    We should send her and obama back to Kenya.

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  8. Fred

    Why don't you people report the McCain/Hensley/Keating connection.

    This story is unverified."May be"??? Go with some facts. Skip innuendo.

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

    To john @ 9:24 who thinks this warrants looking into Obama's place of birth. What a sad life if all you've got is suspicion and fear. Even sadder - you and your kind are what McCain and Palin are preying on, in the hopes that you'll all venture out of your closets on election day and save him.

    November 1, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. Brenda Hills

    I can't believe CNN is reporting this !!!
    Look at the history of McCain and his junkie second wife !
    How many illegal immigrants are in the US right now and all of a sudden just because it is a distant relative of Obama it is reported for the world to see.
    I am sure McCain's campaign made sure this was reported. Anything to dig up what they can to TRY to sway voters.
    IT IS TOO LATE McCAIN.. You have lost.. go and enjoy your golden years in one of your mansions and let us forget about you quickly !!!

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. Rick the worker

    HERE WE GO AGAIN. ANOTHER ISSUE WITH OBAMA. WHEN WILL IT END. EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK THERE IS ANOTHER PROBLEM WITH THIS GUY. REV. WRIGHT, AYER, KHALALINI, NOW HIS AUNT. WHAT ABOUT HIS HALF BROTHER LIVING ON ONE DOLLAR A MONTH IN KENYA, WHERE IS SPREADING THE WEALTH. YOUR OWN FAMILY DOES NOT COUNT OBAMA? ONLY MY MONEY, NOT YOURS?

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. jess

    for cnn.to run this about ,sen obama's aunt and not know weather it is the true,is down right wrong.i know my views don't matter to you.but i do know one day it will.when poeple stop tuning in to here or watch what your news show because they don't trust what you say or feel you are not creditable. [i know this want reach your deck but i feel good about what i just wrote]

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. Tim

    Well lets see, he wants to be president. He knows his aunt is here illegally. Hum, does that mean all illegal immigrants are welcome or just his aunt?

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  14. Kevin Kolb

    Wow!! Look at all the hypocrites that left comments about leaving the lady alone. Let's take gender out of the equation. Let's take race out of the equation! Most Americans want illegal aliens thrown out of the country. Point in fact, most Americans see illegal aliens as Mexicans. Americans are racist people, and blind to anything else! In case you are wondering, I am a white male living in the southwest. I see Mexicans everyday. I THINK THAT WE SHOULD LEAVE RACE ALONE AND DEPORT ILLEGALS! WHETHER ITS A MEXICAN OR OBAMA'S AUNT!! People are looking for a better life. If they can't do things the legal way (Legal immigration), then they should be deported. If the "Aunt" is still here after 4 years, I wonder if Obama or some of his connections has "Helped" her stay here. Just a thought!

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  15. Marie Banderas in TEXAS

    So, why wasnt this printed 6 months or so ago ??? CNN, you wait until weekend before election to post this, with no prooof as yet ? How is this going to help your ratings or McCain ???? If was really true, seems to me it would have surfaced a long time ago as FBI and other feds totally vett canidates before allowing them to run ! I am of the persuasion that YOU CNN or just as much of a rumor monger as they come..It is clear now, that you can not stand seeing McCain lose, are you afraid CNN that YOU might have to pay some higher taxes yourself so you create this mess..???? Hmmmm I smell RATS !
    ALREADY VOTED FOR OBAMA

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  16. marshall

    this is worthless, this is a waste of time. she's one illegal among many others. talk about the issues

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. Bob

    Ok....I guess I'm the fact checker today

    One guy wants to give McCain 5 more houses and 4 more cars.
    He steals 2 of Obama's 3......So cough up 5 houses and 2 cars dude...then you will have your facts straight.

    Another guy wants to put Bush and Cheney in jail for constitutional violations......somebody send him a copy of the Constitution....he obviously hasn't read it.

    All these other paid Obamabloggers seem to want to complain that CNN isn't biased in favor of Obama ENOUGH......Hmmm......that's a new one....anybody catch the story about Obama having a chance to win Arizona...

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. Jack Jodell

    NO WONDER LOU DOBBS IS SO CRITICAL OF OBAMA! :)

    November 1, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  19. Disgusted CNN audience , Washington DC

    1-You are not even sure and you report it!!!
    2-How does it help americans to make a choice?
    THIS IS CALLED SMEARS

    November 1, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  20. jam

    Isn't it sad that as wealthy as he is that he allows a family member to live in public housing, particularly an elderly one. What an awful way to treat an elderly family member who isn't here legally. Why not help the poor woman, be her sponsor, take her in.

    November 1, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. lieNoMore

    She is probably caring for some idiot Republican's family member in a taxpayer supported health care center.

    This is all hypocrisy and non-sense. Just look for irrational paranoia in the comments and you will see which brick heads voting for McMorons.

    November 1, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  22. Ray from NY

    OK CNN lets see how to dig up some more dirt for the ratings!! This is just got to the point of silliness Please e1 lets vote for a change vote Obama/Biden for good of country!!

    P.S. i am white and 47

    November 1, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  23. Deborah

    There are other "LEGAL" citizens of America that are on a waiting list to get into these "US Citizen Tax Paid" housing projects. I would love to take care of everyone in the world that has to do without, but, realistically, we Americans can only do so much. Others have been deported when they were denied amnesty, and so it is only fair she should be too. She must have had help from someone high up to still be here and getting parts of our "wealth"

    November 1, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. AER

    Once again Obama supporters only see what they want to see...just like Bush supporters in 2000 and 2004. An illegal immigrant relative is "illegal"...so much for Obama's "transparency" of government. This is just one more example to vote for "the devil you know, over the devil you don't know" and vote for McCain. I am not looking forward to all the additional "surprises" the ObamaNation will likely reveal. At least I will have the pleasure of saying "I told you so".

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. Independent Dave, Iowa

    Obviously she is a Muslim terrorist operative brought here by Obama to undermine the economy of the US by taking low paying, labor intensive, menial employment.

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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