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. Paul , Canada

    I'll tell you what is scary and it is not an elderly lady waiting for citizenship.
    I was watching the opening of John McCains rally last evening on Cnn with the Governor of California. I am absolutly disgusted at the way he made remarks about Senator OBama's arms,legs and such. The people in America deserve better than this type of terrible trash talk. And i see John McCain was just going along with it hoping the smear machine worked up the crowd. Not all in that audience liked what they were hearing from what we could see.
    My Question is if John McCain is elected President will he consider laughing at all the different people under his care just because they are thin , a little over weight or maybe people with disabilities. I guess if you are not just like him you are considered a joke.
    Shame on Arnold and even more shame on McCain.

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Davin Morrisette

    Obama's Aunt has joined the thousands of others who have come to visit, stay or whatever but they decide they want to stay, can not or do not want a job and are asked to leave and do not. The kicker is she is here illegally and lives in Governement housing! What a country that allows this to continue.

    By the way has anyone seem a copy of Obama's birth certificate? WHERE WAS HE BORN??? Check it out.

    D. Morrisette

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. JP

    When it comes to McCain, what you see is what you get. About Obama who knows?

    These things are minor when it comes to the so called windfall tax policy on oil companies and such.

    What if Exxon-Mobil announced a $10 Billion loss this quarter, and planned to cut thousands of jobs. It's a absurd to be saying successful enterprises doing normal business would be punished for being successful.

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  4. Bill_ MA

    CNN....one Fox network is enough. I tune into CNN to hear news that has not been contaminated by the hatred at Fox. Are you now in the gutter beside the hannity, o'reilly, and the morning sleaze bags there? Perhaps Lou Dobbs can turn this into mountain of his bs. Is CNN getting too big for it's britches? Remember what goes up must come down.

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  5. Antonio

    Stephen, please tell me what this has to do with his citizenship. If you give me a good answer on how this story relates to Obama's citizenship I will shut up.

    Sincerely,
    Antonio
    Beasley, KY

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. Ky

    So freaking what??? It's stupid news like this that you guys at CNN are interested in at this 11th hour.

    Point blank: many of you guys are jealous and couldn't imagine Obama coming this far. Hate him or like him, (the underdog is on top - said the GAME) Obama is going to win big and I can't wait to see your poping eyes on November 5th and January 20th.

    American people know better and thank God for the individual rights to vote. ....

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. j-voice

    its not that the american people are stupid is that the american people are ignorant or i should say naive . Didnt our parents teach us to discuss our conflicts instead of jumping straight to a fight ,doesnt God teach us not to judge but for all to try to live as brothers & sisters and that if someone is in need to help , To me Obama in one way or another stands for all this . Listen noone is perfect especially since he is a politician that comes from the bottom no silver spoon . I am a first generation american citizen and i too hope and work my tail off so my kids have it better than me . I believe he and Biden and the american people can put us back on the right path. oh yea thats how much of importance is that whole aunt thing ,like someone said lets check how many illegal's mccain employs. Go Obama & Biden

    November 1, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Jugdish

    The spin is ASTONISHING......if this were anyone else, the weekend before election.....................IT WOULD BE A WORLD EVENT. Get off of your soap box and come to the realization that Obama is not the answer.............WE WANT HILLARY

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. NOVA

    CNN - this is lowball journalism. Whoever posted this should be ashamed of themselves.

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Tired of Spin

    Charity begins at home....unless you are Barack Obama.

    According to the debate, he watched his mother struggle/fight with health insurance companies & worry about paying her bills. He allows his illegal "Aunt Zeituni" live in public housing with discernable means of income (she is a "volunteer" who lives off taxpayers, but still was able to contribute to Obama's campaign -what did he do for her?!). His half-siblings live in Africa in impoverished conditions.

    Why does he want to re-distribute the wealth of others, when he isn't willing to part with his own (only 6% of his income went to charity according to his tax returns....10% is tithing!)?!?

    This man is not qualified & he doesn't practice what he preaches. America does not need EMPTY PROMISES!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Tim

    O-yeah vote McCain.

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Watson

    Did the aunt register to vote?

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Can we ge real here! Let's hope and pray like millions of other people she will get to see her nephew elected as the next President of the United States of America!

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. hai

    Get Lou Dobbs involved. This story will give him some anti-immigrant juice to moan&groan for the next 6 months.
    CNN ! What are u going to do after Obama becomes president ? Work on his impeachment story?

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Walter R. Johnson

    So what? Who cares?

    November 1, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. News flash

    WHO CARES? CNN I have been on the fence lately. But now I've DECIDED! Other than the Situation Room, Larry King and AC360, I'll be getting the rest of MY news from MSNBC. Give me a break. If she is illegal, she's not the only one. Now Obama is going to weigh in on immigration, and compared to John Mccain that equals MORE VOTES!

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. kbh

    Yawn. What about Gov. Palin's ethics violations? Or would she claim her 'freedom of speech' is being violated if the media actually talked about that?

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. Voter in NH

    Who cares!? Get over it.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  19. woody

    Where has John McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter been during the campaign? Is his campaign hiding her as not to offend battle state conservatives? This example of racism is sad if the republicans are keeping her out of site due to her skin color. Just watch McCain's rallys and pay close to who's in the immediate background.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. Tired of Spin

    Blue by you – if you don't understand how non-working immigrants living off tax payer dollars affects the economy, I sure hope you are voting!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  21. John Thompson

    Notice how an impoverished person gave "several" times campaign contributions of $5 to $25. This is how it's done! Break up the large foreign contributions and attribute the small amounts to thousands and thousands of homeless and impoverished, that have little more than a name. If you're a cheater, you might as well be the best in the world at it. Obama is most definitely the world authority on election tampering. He learned from the best, and is now the best. Obama cheat slapped Hillary in the primary and made her like it. But, bottom line, none of this matters. Obama could say that he wants the US to be governed by muslim law, while having sex with a goat, and beheading a toddler, and all you people on this board would still vote for him and you know it. It doesn't matter what he does or says, and it never has. One can go back and translate Stalin and even Hitler speeches into English, and you'll find that they are incredibly familiar words delivered by people with incredibly familiar stage presence and power over people.
    Oh well, at least we still have checks and balances from congress. No?

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  22. Rita B.

    What about Cindy"s half Sister (the poor one) She is voting for OBAMA.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. Joe, Pomona, California

    One of the presidential candidates was not born in the United States. It's not Obama....

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. C. HERNANDEZ

    GOOD SHE SHOULD CALL ON THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND TURN HERSELF.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. Tracey

    It's a shame that McCain supporters, after having attempted to throw the kitchen sink, are now in the bathroom! This matters because? I thought families were off limits? CNN has not looked into the Alaskan Independent Party, a successionist political party whose former member would reside in the White House should the McCain/Palin team be elected. And you are concerned about a woman living in public housing, who is the sister of a Obama's father – who by the way he only interacted with merely 5 months out of his 47 years of life..... when he was 10 years old!

    Let's see, Obama was raised by his maternal grandparents, Stanley and Marilyn Dunham . His grandfather fought in WWII and grandmother worked her way up from secretary to vice president at the bank in Hawaii that she worked in for 20 years. Get a life!

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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