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. "

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soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. stacy

    for the sake of morality and to back up all he says he believes in
    Obama should help this woman out.

    November 1, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  2. INDEPENDANT VET

    THIS IS ONLY A TIP OF , THE BEGINNING,

    HAVE YOU ALL FOR GOTTEN THAT OBAMA IS NOT A CITIZEN OF THE USA.

    AND HOW MANY MORE ILLEGALS ARE VOTING ALSO .
    ALL THOSE DONATIONS, OUT NUMBER THE AMOUNT OF PAY HE WOULD RECEIVE . WRIGHT.

    November 1, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. oscar

    What has the age of methusaleh got to do with the wisdom of Solomon? What has this got to do with the quest for redeeming the economy ,political and social issues facing the average American. Please let stalk about the main and pressing issues.

    November 1, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. katiec

    If you can find something negative about Obama you will. You
    had to dig pretty hard for this one.
    Cnn, be fair, at least these last few days.
    We do not need your bias.

    November 1, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. nellie

    and?

    November 1, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. Funkemariechen, Berlin

    Now I'm curious how the McCain camp will spin this ... "Aunti Zeituni" could well have the potential for some backlash.

    November 1, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  7. Sea

    CNN shouldnt you wait to post this as NEWS until you get the correct story from Zeituni Onyango, immigration or Obama's campaign? Please allow them to answer before posting the story.

    It's NOT news if it's only gossip.

    November 1, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. Joe, Pomona, California

    His aunt "may" be an illegal immigrant? Why don't you find out and THEN run the story. McCain MAY be an adulterer . .. .oh wait a minute . . . he actually is. Why don't you run a story on that?

    November 1, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  9. Fraser

    Well if they want to blame Obama because his aunt may or not be an illegal immigrant, then I suppose we should blame McCain because his wife was a drug addict and stole crucial drugs from a charity for underprivileged children.

    Once you start the blame game for the activities of family members, it can be a very slippery slope. If Obama's aunt is illegal, it is a CIVIL violation, but Cindy McCain's actions were CRIMINAL. Big difference.

    November 1, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. somebody

    so am i....................................................

    November 1, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. Ben

    To be honest, I'm appalled that CNN is even giving this sorry excuse for a story any attention at all. Especially the weekend before the election. Maybe the accusations at The Huffington Post about you trying to purposefully keep the election have more than a grain of truth to them.

    Shame on you, CNN

    November 1, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. Independent white female patriotic voter

    who cares, her and about several million others. Big deal, she is not going to effect his governing!

    November 1, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  13. tim hopkins

    Is this really news? This is perhaps more of a reason to elect this guy. He has relatives who live in public housing, its clear that this guy is truly change. He is not a member of the power elite.

    Mccain 12 houses, 13 cars. Obama 1 house, 1 car, and family on public housing.

    thats change

    November 1, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  14. Paula

    CNN-where is an indepth article on Palins' lack of health records and she & Todd's involvement with the AIP?????????????

    November 1, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. indyred

    Here we go again. The Republicans will try anything. Why don't we check to see how many illeagal immigrants McCain and his wife employ?

    November 1, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. Joyce in Florida

    Well, here we go as the Repugs try to find stuff on Obama and try to sway voter's minds. Obama has not had much contact (if any) with the family on his father's side. He only saw his dad once when he was about 10 years old. Brother, are the Repugs desperate or what?!?! Too late McCain/Palin. Your campaign has been done for some time. Just keep up the negativity (seems like that is all you know) and more people will vote for Obama because he IS the better candidate and honestly we are sick of hearing your voices. This Hillary Clinton supporter voted early for Obama and am proud of it. Took me a while to make up my mind, but after seeing Hillary Clinton here in September, that sealed the deal for me. And his 1/2 hour time slot earlier this week was fantastic. All I could say after it was WOW!!!!!!!! I definitely know I made the right choice for our next President. Go Obama/Biden all the way to the White House. You are much needed there to clean up the Repugs mess (again).

    November 1, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. INDEPENDENT

    LEAVE THE OLD LADY ALONE YOU JERKS!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  18. Frannie

    Then by all means he should be disqualified from the race!!!

    Give me a break.........

    November 1, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  19. GlenR

    Quick call out the National Guard! I expect the GOP will be ranting about this all weekend. She's probably a terrorist or a socialist.

    November 1, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Al

    Isn't it illegal for an illrgal immigrant, a non U.S. citizen to contribute to a political candidate?

    Isn't it illegal for a politician to accept campaign contributions from a foreign national?

    I'm sure that we can count on Senator Obama to uphold our laws and respect our constitution, as long as he agrees with them.

    November 1, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  21. INDEPENDENT

    LEAVE THE OLD LADY ALONE YOU RIGHT WINGED REPUBLICAN JERKS AND THE MEDIA!!

    November 1, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  22. mike

    are they serious!!!! does any one really care!!!! go to any mcdonalds in the ny metro area or california. or hey even a california farm and you will alot of illegals who dont speak english.

    thats my two cents.

    November 1, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. john

    How come none of you liberals are talking about this. Maybe we should still investigate Obama's true place of birth.

    November 1, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  24. Paul in FL

    Fotunately, if this is true, the Repugs have no problem with illegal immigrants. Maybe McBush will sign her up for citizenship benefits.

    November 1, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. Joseph

    Who cares? Give us a break CNN. I will still vote for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
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