November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
8 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. carlo

    It amazes me that people are still challenging Obama's citizenship. His father had so many kids and relatives, it is impossible for Obama to care for all of them. He was born to an AMERICAN mother in Hawaii. Isn't Hawaii a freakin' U.S. state? All of you fake patriots who come on here and spew your hatred, remember this. NONE OF US ORIGINATED IN THE U.S.! This country really belongs to the Native Americans, so if Obama needs to go back to where he came from, so should all of you.

    November 1, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Medical Student

    I will be glad when this election is over. The hate is has brought out in the American people is disgusting. Everyone has the right to support the candidate of their choice; and they should not be called "stupid, idiot", or anything else along these lines. People have become so hateful. All you can do is pray for America and the man who wins the race on Tuesday.

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. ChrisDC

    Leave "Auntie" alone!
    We have better things to do in our lives than checking out trivia that does not affect our lives. We have better things to do – like get our economy on the right track and get the heck out of Iraq!
    At least she donated to the campaign!

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Jeffer65

    Everyone has skeletons in their closet. I don't expect any of the candidates to be perfect.
    Funny how McCain supporter latch on to things like this and spin them. When asked why McCain is better and what exactly he will do to fix problems, they don't have the answers because he has no plans.
    Read the Rolling Stone article about McCain, the real maverick, the spoiled, screw-off navy brat who has been trying to be better than his father and grandfather all his life.

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |

    The McCain show strikes again! This is not news. It happens every day in the USA. Political mudslinging of the ugliest kind. Crappy Nonsensical News?!

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. Marvin

    CNN please don't follow in the ignorant steps of Foxnews, reporting things that are so irrelevant in theis campaign.

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. andrea

    this message is for all those who thinks that obama is not a citizen, get your facts before you say anything. Obama is and will always be an american. Now go out and vote Obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. John Hardworker

    Why is this important in the presidential race?

    CNN turned into another FOX, I can see it now.

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  9. OsamaluvsObama

    Lets redistribute our wealth to her!
    Obama the miilionaire leaves his aunt in poverty as an illegal alien and she is on welfare.
    Then as an illegal alien she is illegally donating to the Obama campaign.
    Wake up you muffin heads.

    November 1, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  10. JG

    Once again since the McCain campaign cannot talk about the issues, they try to distract the voters. Even his campaign advisers have stated that if they talk about the issues, they will loose.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  11. Andrew

    Great way to make big elections about small things! Good job AP and CNN!

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. Dan

    I thought family members were off limits this election? Obama's aunt isn't running for president. Until there is tangible evidence that Obama is connected to this issue, this story shouldn't even be reported.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. McCain

    I guess the Obama campaing sent their OBAMABOTS over to CNN to try and downplay this story.

    You guys are so close to ruining the constitution and the Democratic party...

    If this guy gets in, and when it is revealed he was NOT born in the US, there will be CHAOS..

    And Bush will be laughing when he installs Martial LAW.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |

    There's not ENOUGH $$$ to solve our problems and there's no way we can predict, in this world, what our problems will be, especially when we cannot fix the problems we have. As a nation we've got the best of human resources in the entire world and we all want to be put to work to restore this country's greatness. I believe leadership KNEW how bad the economy was and when it was bad. I believe that getting close to the election, the decite was all designed to protect President Bush and try to ensure that a Republcan would suceed him in the white house. But as usual, when you try to manipulate something, something ALWAYS happens that you didn't expect. It was supposed to be McCain-Clinton race, but that did not happen. Republicans: Keep your Karl Rove tactics; keep your fear; keep your attacks on citizens of America and citizens of the world; keep your divisiveness; keep your hypocrisy; keep your rigging/manipulating elections; keep your ceos executive compensation packages which ultimately run the company into the ground, put millions of people out of work, with no health care and their savings in jeopardy (how does a company go under, and the CEOS are the ONLY ones who get to keep their money?
    Doesn't profit/bonuses come AFTER the bills have been paid?; keep your hostility and disdain towards everyone who is not a Republican; keep your narrow world view; keep your meglomania; keep your lies; keep your dedeit keep your guns. Spread the wealth. Salaries are the ONLY thing that have not gone up during Republcan leadership. What we get are 2% raises. Keep your policies. Keep your religion, keep your gouns and GIVE ME THE CHANGE! GO OBAMA, GO BIDEN 08/12 and DEMOCRATS FOREVER!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. Christy

    How is this news? CNN even states they haven't even verified this information.

    Not too surprising that this would come from the corporate news media that gave McCain a free half hour on one of their shows the night of the Obama infomercial.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  16. Ryan L.

    Probably yet another have baked lie...conveniently close to the election of course. Either way, it's not Obama's problem.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  17. Jen

    I think he just wrapped up the Mexican vote 😉

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. I care

    I care that she is an illegal immigrant. Why don't we REALLY verify whether Obama is a "natural born" US citizen.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. Pete

    If this is true, I am astounded that a campaign that has operated so effectively would allow this situation to persist. Why wasn't she sent home by the campaign and given a stipend? This is the sort of careless mistake that can sway a few rednecks in key states. I expect the McCain campaign to jump all over this and use it to further the impression that Barack isn't one of us. Epic fail on the part of the BO campaign.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Andy

    This is story is surely nothing new. This story has been sitting on someones desk at CNN for probably a year and they release it now not because of its news worthiness but to try and create an October surprise for the election cycle. Manufactured news ...CNN.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Give It Up McCain

    Further proof that the only possible grounds on which to vote against hope and unity is to dwell in ignorance and fear. oooooh, he's got a relative here illegally–must be a big dark mystery so let's go vote for the status quo. We are in a deep sleep people. Time to wake up and quit telling little ghost stories.

    Obama 08

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. CENTRIST for Obama

    In 2004 it was "the gays" now in 2008 it's black people, foreign people, and anyone who has an "un-American name. At 36 I'm really starting to fear where the right wing is trying to take us. And what scares me even more is that there is expectance amongst us Americans for this sort of supremacist behavior. Where will we end up? And who are they coming after next? God help us. Dems please save the courts!

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  23. Indendent for Obama

    Who cares!!! I thought family members were off Palin's 16 year old daughter....What about McCains drug addicted wife. Let's look into all of his family members. Leave Obama alone and let's win this election.

    November 1, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  24. Blue is Cool!

    I bet CNN leaves this on their main headline ALL day.

    Exploiting a senior who obviously lives very frugally. Pathetic.

    I know my comment will awaiting ......

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  25. Human Being

    Aunt Zeituni, you go girl! I hope you get enough media attention that they have to make you legal so you can stop worrying about it.

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
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