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. Lisa

    I would say make sure your reporters use correct grammar before obviously hastily rushing to report a scandalous story – "The AP says she remain...".
    Thanks.

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. dena

    lou dodds should be be going crazy right about now. illegal immigrant, black, and female

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Voter

    Better than being married to someone that wants their state to leave the USA!!

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Pat

    They should put a gag on the media until the election is over.
    We have heard enough crap to last us until 2016.

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Jonesie

    The desperation and the ignorance of the Republic party...

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. Emelda

    Ditto all the "who cares?" ... The AP and CNN are obviously experiencing a "slow scoop" Saturday!

    November 1, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. Wes

    Quite a few other reliable news sources are reporting this too, CNN needed to at least mention it. Developing story. I don't expect this to effect enough voters to swing any states the other way. Sen. Obama should address this sooner rather than later – curious if his aunt has to take her money back – its my understanding you must be a US citizen to donate money directly to presidential campaigns.

    Wes

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. John Hardworker

    Unfortunately, we are all illegal alliens, we took this land from the native Americans and are here illegally.

    CNN should find important things from MadCain campaign, if they cannot find them, they should not get into this type of stupidity, specially if CNN said they have not been able to confirm this? Is this the former top journalistic network? Lowering the bar to publish rumors? I cannot believe it.

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  9. Misha

    That is the way Obama fix the problems,
    I would be ashamed to have an aunt in those conditions
    TELL THE GREAT CHARLATAN PROPHET TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. julzz

    CNN u were once respectable... this is petty news.. that is insignificant at this moment. how does this relate to his politics considering that he has nothing to do with his fathers family since his father abandoned him.

    and plz tell me how does this make a difference to american polictics

    if you want to be the most trusted name in news.. then please actually provide news worthy of consideration....

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. GSPENN

    I AM SO TIRED OF HEARING THE RIDICULOUS CITIZENSHIP CONSPIRACY THEORIES. DO YOU REALIZE HOW STUPID YOU LOOK WHEN YOU BRING IT UP. OBAMA IS A US CITIZEN. I'M SURE YOU ALL WISH HE WASN'T, BUT HE IS, SO GO FIND A NEW STORY.

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Baby love

    I think the media has nothing to talk about this weekend.please shut the he'll up and let discuss issues that are important to the america people .

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Holly

    How odd that this is coming out this weekend. Actually, it just highlights the complete breakdown of the immigration process here in the US, which has been under Bush's oversight for the past 8 years. Now, this woman is becoming a target for political reasons. Obama may not even have known she was in this country, and if he had, and had helped her (as many of the Repugs in these comments have said he should have), I guess he would have been criticized for helping someone stay here illegally. So really, it's a no-win situation for him, right? Let's stick to the real issues. The Democrats haven't resorted to the kind of gutter politics the Republicans have. I have no respect AT ALL for the circus McCain has been running for the past several months.

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. Charles Sherman

    Why is this newsworthy? Don't get sucked into this phony "October surprise." If there's any story here, it is the continuing efforts by the McCain campaign and its allies to turn the focus away from the real issues at stake in this election.

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. nancy

    I would think if he is so big on doing the right thing, he will make sure she is here legally. Of course, if he wins, than he will just make sure her records are either changed, lost, or say that it doesn't matter. Wait and see, special treatment will come for her.

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. John in Iowa

    seriously? some people are still coming up with the "he wasnt born in the US" nonsense?
    You don't kind of think that if that was true then the McCain camp would be making that actual headline news and investigating properly rather than relying on independent idiots to make these claims?
    Same thing as the muslim claim.
    Im fairly certain that if he was an non-american muslim then McCain would be telling you about it.
    And to those that say "but Obama is hiding it" then just realize that the people that need to find these things out have far far far more resources at their disposal to do so than the fools that post on here.

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. Are you serious!!!

    Are some of you people still seriously contesting that Obama is not a US Citizen??? Have you no idea how politics work? If he was not a legal natural born US citizen he would have never been able to even run in the primary elections much less accept the nomination for president. Please do us a favor before you go vote and get a little educated on the political process from start to finish.

    November 1, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Fani from NJ

    OMG, What a shocker !!! NOT. ....

    Gimme a break.

    Joe McCains abuses 911 Emergency system – that is a crime.

    Cindy McCain stole drugs – that is a felony.

    Todd Palin is a member of a party that wanted to remove a star from our flag – that is treason.

    Republicans are desperate. They want to show that McCain is very close in the polls so it will be easy for them to steal the election via vote machine fraud like last time. Then no one will raise an eyebrow – now its tough because Obama has a wide lead...

    November 1, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. charles

    Sarah is refusing to release her medical records you are not mentioning it why. three days to the election what is she hiding. get a life cnn. 4more days and l say bye to cnn.

    November 1, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. OHIO FOR OBAMA

    Ok. and this has what to do with the economy and the election?????? You guys have had Senator Obama under the microscrope since he announced he was running for president. Give him a break. He has laid out his plans for the economy,jobs, healthcare and foreign polcy. Talk about mcasame. Oh that's right he will be 4 more yrs of that loser bush.

    November 1, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. somebody from OK

    "INDEPENDANT VET" you need to brush up on your laws! Even if your lame claims that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. were true (which they've been proven wrong so this is a moot point anyway) he would STILL be a US Citizen. Natural-born citizen means someone who is a us citizen at birth. This would include someone born to a US-Citizen overseas. So even if Obama was born elsewhere (he wasn't) he would still be a natural born citizen by way of his mother being AMERICAN. If you want to go that route though, why don't you check up and see where McCain was born...

    November 1, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. Allison

    Ha ha ha! Obama "scandals" are so lame. Can't wait for Tuesday!

    November 1, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Liz Petrocelli

    Should I be concerned by this? I'm 66, recently widowed, faced with paying thousands of dollars incurred during my husband's illness and living in the cold, cold state of (Bristol) Maine. My decision-making is centered on this: Do I heat or do I eat?

    November 1, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. Evelyn Jewell

    What else is Obama hiding from the American people??

    I haven't put much faith & trust in Obama, since the early primaries.

    I think, Obama has " poor " judgment !

    Hillary Clinton, was the best candidate, to be where Obama is now, for electing our next President.

    The news media bashed Hillary, from her inception as a candidate.

    The news media has been & still is biased toward Obama, Why???

    It's because Obama has given the TV news channels, lots of money, for his continuous TV ADS. Where is all his money coming from?

    Maybe the Saudi government, who knows?

    Obama will not be able to produce all his promises, if he is elected.

    We will soon ind out ! Also watch for the next four years, what happens to this country with Obama, as President.

    November 1, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. Sandy

    This ridiculous, so what? what s the big deal? Why don't you guys search something more important than gossiping all day long for little things. I WILL STILL VOTE FOR OBAMA NO MATTER WHAT?

    November 1, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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