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. "

Full story

soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Reading the comments, it is unbelievable that people don't care that Obama knew "Auntie" was in the country illegally and illegally collecting welfare and let her live in squalor on my dime. Mr. "family man" is worth millions from his two books and lets her live like that. We have truly lost control of our country.

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  2. IllegalWorker

    Many of us have "illegal immigrants" in our past. Maybe we should think before throwing stones.

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. homerun

    I think we should have a watergate style investigation!!! Give me a break... Who cares. Shame on you CNN for posting this garbage.

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  4. matthew

    Wow CNN, low low low.

    You don't even have all the facts and you're reporting this as true, or at least insinuating as much with your headline.

    Are you changing formats and just becoming an everyday political blog?

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. Giselle Thayer

    Would you turn your back on John McCain knowing that he sacrificed his own life for our country?

    For two thousand and seven days (5 ½ years) John McCain said “Country First” even if this meant receiving torture beyond belief by the Vietnamese captors. For two thousand and seven days, McCain did NOT turn his back on the nurse, the bus driver, the school teacher, the immigrants, the white, the black, the hispanics, the entrepreneur, the rich, the poor, and senior citizens. On the contrary, McCain said “I will sacrifice my life for every single American Citizen in the United States of America” even if this meant being in solitary confinement, getting the most atrocious beatings, getting smashed with a rifle on the shoulder, getting jabbed in the ankle, getting jabbed in the groin, getting knocked down, getting kicked in the head, getting the ribs cracked, having a high fever and losing consciousness for long periods of time, lying on vomit, blood and waste from the inhumane beatings.

    This is our ONLY opportunity as a nation to do the right thing, and say “In McCain we trust” Please show your gratitude and loyalty to our country and to everyone in the United States by voting for McCain and Palin…

    “I can only hope that every man that was ever in the military will read this book and appreciate the contributions of men like John McCain III. We all owe a debt of gratitude to men like him, true Americans who sacrificed everything for their country.” (Wayland Mayo)

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. rhayes

    I can't believe what I am hearing from people that like myself call themselves Americans. It is apparent that after this story and all the stories that have come out that you still want to support this guy. You care nothing about this country and are willing to betray it. He needs to be disqualified from running for president and you jerks need to pack your bags and move to Kenya and take obama with you. I'm ashamed of everyone of you and you should be labeled as traitors.

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Patrick

    all the left wingers active now. lol. it really doesnt matter if she lives in a public housing. However, this proves Obama is taking illegal contributions for his campaign. Going back on his word to take public financing and not wanting to check where the money is coming from. This guy will do anything to get elected. He cant back his aunt, you left wingers think he is going to look after you? All he wants is to be first black president. thats all guys. you are on your own.

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Mr. Moderation

    Barack Obama's aunt has been before a judge and given a lawful order to leave the United States of America and made illegal contributions to Obama's campaign. She also gets a break on housing as an illegal. What's wrong with this picture?

    November 1, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. Conservative for Obama

    It's these off-handed, personal attacks (mostly from the republicans) that are the reason I am voting for Obama this election. SO MUCH FOR FAMILY BEING "OFF LIMITS".

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

    You wanted a man who had been tested, right? Would any of us come out from the onslaught that bombarded this once in a life time chance with the power and calmness he has so brilliantly exhibited. Now that is the real test of a great president. Please leave that woman alone. Her $25 contribution is not the reason why Obama is this far.

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Fred, New York City

    Hey liberals wake up! He maybe was not born in the USA as well. He seems inscrutability guy.

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. joe

    CNN is the crappiest piece of news organization ive ever witness and ive witness fox. Hail to MSNBC. Down with cnn.

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. Canadians for Obama/Biden!!!!

    Must be a slow news morning in the United States today...?? Or just adding to the fear mongering?

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. meme

    And this means.......??????????

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Jinger

    This is just one more example of deception by Obama. He knew full well that his aunt was here illegally. He is a lawyer for goodness sakes, who do you think she called when her citizenship was denied? He obviously doesn't care about his family, and a man that doesn't care about his family can not be trusted to care about the rest of us. I don't care if it is your aunt, or your half brother, if you are rolling in the dough and can not help a woman out any better than to leave her in public housing with a deportation on her back, then you sure as heck are not going to be worried about my home being foreclosed or the lack of jobs. You are selfish Obama and it is to bad that people can not see it. Please people think before you vote on Tuesday, look at the man's actions, not his words.

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. Ellis Clevenger

    CNN-When the service first started, it was timely and accurate. It started when GEORGE H. BUSH was PRESIDENT. The war, at that time, was called DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD. Many years later, as PRESIDENT, we have GEORGE H. W. BUSH. The war, is now called War on terror/ IRAQI FREEDOM. Like father, like son? CNN-the service has become as big a joke as a Bush Presidency. Stories like this, is why!! Report on the demise of the American MAIN STREET!! Report on the Hope of the AMERICAN PEOPLE!! Stop using as stories the same anti-rhetoric from either side. The service has went from CABLE NEWS NETWORK to CAN'T report NO NEWS!!

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. Two-faced

    Of course most of the readers are saying "SO WHAT". Would you expect anything else coming from a bunch of Obama supporters? If this happened to McCain/Palin, oh my gosh, there would be a huge outrage, shouts of favoritism, etc.

    By the way, as Pres Clinton was speaking at the rally the other night with O, he mentioned that O was asking alot of people for advice about the economic situation. Clinton said – "He asked me, he asked HIllary, he asked ...". Uh, I could be mistaken, but guess what, according to Clintion, the great OZ didnt ask his VP- Joe Biden! Interesting.

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. MBFLA

    WOW, maybe ICE should go into the housing authority in the middle of the night with guns pulled and battering rams and yank her and everyone else out of bed and get this on the front page of every paper before Tuesday.

    What a load of .....

    Obama/Biden 08 for a kinder gentler America

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. Tyree in Virginia

    That is so funny....four days before elections and this is the best the media can come up with? Really this is just another reason why Obama should get elected, so that he can make her a resident. I don't believe that Obama has any relatives from his father side of the family here in America besides his aunt.

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. Jake145

    GIVE ME A BREAK!!

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  21. C. HERNANDEZ

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

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. Frances

    And this means what??

    November 1, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. MARIA

    I care!!!!! because Im a legal immigrant here in the US and its NOT FARE! THOSE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CAME HERE THE EASY WAY!! NOWAY!! I care for America I work my butt hard to came here the legal way and LIVE THE AMERICAN DREAM!! THOSE WHO THINK THAT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT IS OK TO STAY IN THE US IS SO SO SO IDIOT!

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. drc

    While this certainly wouldn't sway someone to vote one way or another how is it NOT news worthy? Should CNN and every other liberal source bury it and just remain pro-obama like they have the last 2 years.

    Like every other illegal in this country she should be rounded up and given a one-way ticket home. Usually the pro-illegals cry 'racism' as if illegal is a race. Shall we go on about her being in PUBLIC housing which is paid for my the PUBLIC?

    I'm independent and it amazes me how you all want any story that may even remotely play negative on obama to just be 'swept under the rug'.

    Of course, once Obama is in he will give healthcare to 10-20 million illegals, so at least auntie can get that.

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. ingrid

    And your point is...?

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