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. Sue L

    Who cares? She's one of many that may be illegal in this country. McCain has always been a big supporter in changing immigration laws – maybe he can help Obama's Aunt achieve legal status. Ha! Or is this just another McCain dirty campaigning trick to try and turn the tides against Obama... McCain and Palin have done so much dirty politics that it will be very difficult for the Republican party to gain ground they've lost. I've always been an Independent voter but this campaign has really turned me against the Republican stance..
    As a result, I'm voting "Obama"....

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. claudia dick

    who cares she and so many others.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  3. Life long Zony

    Is this the best thing Neocons can come up with. Leave Obama out of that. He is not causing that problem.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. Cathy

    Guess it's OK that Mc Cain's brother Joe McCain calls 911 to complain about traffic, then swears at the officer and hangs up.
    Let's bring up relatives on BOTH sides.......
    What a waste of time.
    Is this what solves the big problems in America........???

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. claudia dick

    who cares she and so many others.who are not related to obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. BusinessOwner

    How much experience has any of our recent presidents really had. Look at G.W., I would not hire him to run anything, now or in 2000

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  7. Pam

    I sincerely was voting for Obama but with this info I am just not sure anymore..If it isn't covered to a greater extent and just covered up I believe he could lose alot of Election votes simply because Illegal's From any country in the US is a Shame.. Living on welfare the tax payers have to pay... Wow ... Amazing what the government can do to the Ordinary Citizen's of the United States. People need to stand up for our rights .. The government is not going to do it for us...
    I think our government allows to many people from different countrys here to begin with.. Not that we shouldn't have some from different ethinic groups but just that not all of them it seems. India is already trying to run out bussiness's out here. MOTEL"S Which we absolutely wont stay at they are filthy ... What will they be running for the next presidency? Really get real..... This country has totally gone down hill from the Moral's it used to have.. Our country was a bases for God , In our schools Etc. But now because you have different cultures screaming OMG it is discrimination.. Wow tell them to go back home then. NEVER should any one or any thing take GOD out of our culture. or be persuaded to do so by anyone. Just look at how everything has gone down hill. Killings in schools .. And the list goes one.. The devil has conquered once again.. They should be so proud of them selves. Where did our belief system go and the moral's to keep a country focused on God to run our country not Man. ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!! Did everyone forget that???

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. SoCal

    I find it extremely disturbing that all of a sudden the immigration status of this woman is being revealed and appears in the news. And I'm disgusted at the idea that Republicans (who have done nothing about legal and illegal immigration for 8 years) will now try to exploit this story to try to score some cheap political points.

    How about a "political ticker" item announcing that Ron Reagan (yes, the son of Ronald Reagan) has now formally endorsed Obama?

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. chester

    I cannot believe CNN actually reported this. They are so biased and in the tank for Obama I am shocked. Obama has a brother in Kenya making 1.00 a month and a illegal alien aunt in Boston. Obama wants to spread the wealth will the American peoples money but won't share his own with his family. Rich tightwad Obama won't take care of family, won't take care of the country. His aunt should be deported now.

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. boo -boo hiv

    so what cindy and john are adulters

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  11. mlcc

    Why doesn't he share his wealth with her? If he does not share why should we have to pay for all the laziness out there. I work hard for what I have and so should you!

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. Flip

    You FLAMING liberals get what you deserve............crappy gov't, crappy benfits, ridiculous taxes.................all at the expense of the rest of us who work for ourselves. Thanx jackos. BTW, can't wait for the hollywood elites to begin the exile to France come wednesday........

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. Hal

    Ya big deal!!1 Is she the only one? I don't think so!!! Should Obama stoop so low as to look in McCain/Palins closets?? There are plenty of skeltons hid there and some not so much to be proud of. When you have affairs, when you do drugs, when you get pg before you're married, Oh My, my, my, So they better shut up before the mudslinging turns the other way. What happened to a clean campaign and taking the high road huh McCain??? And your promises of balancing the budget in 4 years, new drilling tomorrow, are so far out. I believe in the promises of we will work together to make these thing happen but it will take hard work and working together as Obama said. Obama is in touch with today, McCain is in touch with thirty years ago. McCain even thinks he is the only man that served his country, was aPOW, and has scars to prove it. How does that make every other American that fought ,suffered , and even gave lives for their country? You are so wrong and so selfish!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. Kevin

    Right wing extremists didnt put her in the slums of Boston. This story was broke by a London newspaper. Why isnt he spreading his wealth to help her? This is how he treats his Dear Aunt from his book? Either he is a hypocrit...or he knew she was illegal all along. He doesnt seem to be helping his brother in kenya either.

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Bartlett

    Why did the immigration judge reject her request for asylum?
    Kick Aunti Zeituni out and send her back to Kenya along with everyone else that is here illegally.
    Then ask Barack for his Birth Certificate.

    November 1, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Is McCain's bosom buddy G. Gordon Liddy still allowed citizenship? What about their relationship (ongoing) and their affiliation (active) in PNAC? Maybe McCain should be disqualified for those things.

    Oh John – McCain was born in Panama – never a state. Get a brain.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Ben

    Typical of the Obama family... Hope Obama's legal...

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Flo

    Maybe CNN should check with McCain camp or President Bush because according to AP report only top level polical party could possibly leak information out about immigration status. This is another disgusting way McCain/Bush is trying to pull the wool over American peoples' eye. There is nothing but division and deceit in the Republican party. But the silver lining is that Latinos and Foreign born citizens like myself can relate even more to Obama because his family background.

    I pray the secretary of state (Condi Rice) investigate further before the election to let the American people know why this woman's immigration status was leaked to the press and hold them accountable.

    Peace Senator Obama....................

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Lou

    CNN, Please do not report this "story" as news unless you can confirm that it is true. Whatever happened to journalistic integrity? I didn't see you report the story about Palin's supposed affair, which was a good decision, if you could not find any evidence to back it up. Please treat all candidates with equal respect.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. BM

    I'm livid that you see this as a news story when McCain may not be a citizen himself. The only reason you won't report McCain's past, like the Keating 5 or G. Liddy is because you know Obama will not sling mud.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. I DARE YOU

    I DARE YOU .... CNN ... to give a story about AIP (Alaskan Independence Party) and Sarah Palin....something that is really relevant to the election... you've chickened out up until now... and show a real bias by making THIS a story... you've just lost a reader for life.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. Lex

    This is as important as Obama being Brad Pitt's 6th cousin. He probably hasn't seen her in 20 years and write the story as if it matters.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  23. Voice

    THIS MUST BE THE OCTOBER SURPRISE!

    LET'S FACE IT, MCCAIN/PALIN GOT OFF EASY DURING THIS ELECTION BECAUSE THEY WERE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO BE RUNNING AGAINST SOMEONE WITH INTEGRITY. HAD OBAMA CHOSEN TO UNLEASH ALL OF THE BAGGAGE FROM "THOSE TWO", THEY WOULD HAVE RUN IN SHAME.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. Lisa

    On Obama's aunt.
    1. The campaign confirmed the story for the London Times but refuses comment here.
    2. The woman is mentioned in his book so is not unknown to Obama.
    3. She lives in Government housing and works for the housing authority. who's Obama's buddy in Boston?
    4. According to the AP this has been going on for 5 years and now there is a directive to "screen deportations until after Tuesday"
    5. She has been contributing to the Obama campaign which violates
    election laws. His small donors need to be disclosed.
    6. The large number of mexican raids did not allow any such
    consideration for the separation from US citizen children. The
    latin community should be outraged.
    7. This speaks to the integrity and character of Obama. So much
    for transparency and change in Government.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Here we go again :O

    The tribe to which Obama's family belong are ethnic minorities in Kenya. I'm sure she has a very good reason for applying for asylum. Her life could legitimately be in danger if she's forced to return.

    Unfortunately, during the Bush administration the US has severely curtailed the number of visas and green cards given to people in situations like hers. Sadly, it seems like we're no longer that shining city on a hill.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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