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. chris

    it's no issue that matters to people i think, what people wanna hear it is the economy , what reps did for 8 years under bush? , the folks don't let up that happens again, because if you just wanna your destruction , the disasters just keep following those lies , and who cares or is that matter? if his so called aunt, sure she's his aunt because she's the sister of his father , but that is not something that can infect this campaign you know , i just think the republicans they are nomore trusting the victory that's why they wanna trouble this last campaign, it just remains to call again the president obama terrorist, socialist as they do , america wake up we can not let up again one minute, one second, go votiing for change and keep the america economy strong , don't care about the distraction they wanna put around............... yes we can and will

    November 1, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Jacqui

    Can't anything wait to be "reported" anymore AFTER the facts are determined?

    November 1, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. linda in AR

    Sarah Palin as a member of "Joel's Army"...now there's a story. Then there's her ties to AIP. Or more about the ethics charges pending.

    Or JSM's son's resignation from the Silver State Bank just before it went bankrupt might be a better "relative" story.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Robert Sparks

    John McCain is who he has always been. Forget this country first stuff. He'll do and say anything to save his own hide.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Shevot

    Well the truth is, most of the illegal immigrants in this country do not cross the border illegally. They get legal permission to be here like Zeituni and stay once their permission has expired. Hopefully President Obama will work on a great plan for immigration reform to allow people who want to work and be a contribution to society, gain a path to citizenship. We need to have a way to deal with the criminal scum who enter our country and not put them in the same category with the families who are trying to make a living. Maybe Aunt Zeituni will get permission to stay since her nephew will be President next week.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Allah Bless Our Messiah

    CNN claims to unbiased. Almost 50% of the voters in this country support John McCain. Yet almost all of the postings at CNN blogs are viciously anti-McCain/Palin. So why are most of the followers of CNN hate filled Obamaist ? Could this be a friendly place for them ? Hmmmmm...........

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Soccer mom from Canada

    So what?
    All these investigations that are thourough enough to report on..... If the McCain campaign says something even if it is out of context, it gets reported. Thank God for fact check: However, what about Palin's husband and the Alaskan Independence Party. Not a word CNN. If it isn't true then say at least why it isn't true. But still, not a word.
    I respect honest reporting. I just wish the same scrutiny was given McCain and Palin. At first you guys were looking her over. Which is normal when you have 5 weeks to vet her. Now, she cries victim and suddenly she is untouchable. People want to know about this woman with very radical views. She could be the next president or in 2012

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Mrs Miller

    Who cares, and shame on you, CNN.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Roderick - Texas

    Here the republicans go...I wonder what federal office they broke into after closing to try and dig up this October surprise? Especially since immigration records are confidential?

    I am sure Obama knows first had every single contributor that donates $5 to $25 dollars to his campaign.

    Look, this is exactly the type of Karl Rowe far right wing red neck republican actions that have caused so many decent republicans to leave the party. This is also the type of dirty tricks that have dominated our political system that if continued will make America a fertile ground for terrorist to recruit Americans who have simply had enough of the foolishness at the polls and in the media around election time that sways elections and drown out their voice.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. Phoenix

    Stephen, THEY HAVE CONFIRMED THAT OBAMA IS A CITIZEN. Good night. Here, I am so tired of McCain supporters with dumb questions, until I will actually provide a list of great questions that you could ask to about Obama in order to stop making ridiculous posts.

    – Senator Obama, how will your economic plans affect small business owners who cannot afford to raise the minimum wage?
    – Senator Obama, you talk about Pakistan, how will this affect the current troop distribution between Iraq, and Afghanistan?

    See, there are smart questions to ask. Lets try them for a change.

    I am an educated Republican who recognizes that her party has decided to cater to bigots, and the uneducated. See McCain supporter comments below.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. cas

    "When will a serious investigation begin into Senator Obama’s citizenship? This issue is legitimate, has not been answered with an honest, forthright approach and speaks to the very heart of our Constitutional protection. While it may be an awkward time to seriously ask the question and investigate, it is also incumbent upon the Constitutionally protected American media to provide the American public with certain protections when the very fabric of the Constitution is at risk of degradation."

    Are you serious or maybe ignorant? Do you actually think this has not been checked over and over again by the media and the government? If this was an actual issue it would have come to light years ago.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Joe the $1/4M plumber, Idaho Falls

    Remember, McSame was born in Panama. Some say he has ties to Noriega.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Orange County

    Last night I told my trick or teators... "Sorry, Mr. Obama took the candy I had for you and give it to some other famlies in some other city." How can this be? Gosh I was raised so differently in the US. Now an illegal alien aunt who is here illegally, who has a standing deportation order? No one who "really" know if the guy was born in the USA? No "real" birth certificate? Friends with known terrorists and the PLO supporters? What are you telling other countries if you elect Barack Obama? That we are just plain stupid and fell for some "Amway" salesman with a deep voice? My vote isfor an America War Hero, who had stood the test of time. Who is NOT like George Bush, but is interesting "Change". Chances are McCain is not going to die tomorrow. Palin will have plentiy of time to get polished and more educated on international issues.... Vote American Vote McCain.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. GJD

    Well that will make me switch to the senile old man and the lying female. Just what we need, a president prone to temper tantrums,
    stomping his feet. prancing around like an idiot war mongering. And a VP who would'nt know the truth if it smacked her in the face. Spewing hate and lies. 3 more days and you and your sidekick Todd can head back to Alaska and ruin ( ooopps) run the State.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Cedric

    why now? this is really nasty in this time. Too late for the smear

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  16. THE MCCAIN SHOW?

    Compared to the illegal occupation of Iraq, this is a sad sideshow.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  17. Mary

    I see the Republicans behind this. They will do anything to win. It will only backfire. Get a Life.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Bob from S S

    LNNE +++++ i LIKE EVER WORD YOU STATED .

    AND YOU WERE VERY LUCKIE THEY PRINTED IT .

    SOME PEOPLE THINK THAT THIS 143 DAY WONDER IS REALLY GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING.

    I SAY TRUSTING OBAMA IS LIKE TRUSTING BILL CLINTON TO BABY SIT YOUR UNDER AGE NIECE

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. Pat W.

    Is this all you've got, Karl? Not this time. Not now. No way.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. kel

    Maybe now Obama will be forced to help this family relative first before he can save the rest of us.

    His Grandma from Hawaii has been housebound for a very long time, so it has not made sense for her to continue to live in Hawaii all alone. More than likely she'll die without any family by her side.

    Obama could do much to alleviate the extreme poverty under which his relatives in Africa lives, and would be just like a few crumbs for him. Hopefully and ironically, if he becomes president his relatives will benefit of the aid to Africa package.

    November 1, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. John Hardworker

    Instead of publishing this rumors, why don't you go to Kansas and find out what are some of the big businesses telling their employees: "If Obama loses, the company may go to bankrupcy, therefore, they have to vote for MadCain." I heard that from someone there and I trust it. Why don't you check if that is a rumor or not. That is a real important issue for this election.

    November 1, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. sandyj

    Is there anything the republicans won't try at this point? By Monday the story will be that the aunt was in Russia and Palin saw her from her porch in Alaska.

    November 1, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. j

    This isn't an issue relevant to the presidential campaign.

    November 1, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. And.....

    What about McCain's wife stealing drugs? Palin's husband wanting to succeed from the U.S? McCain addressing his supporters as "prisoners?" The many illegal immigrants rich people like McCain and his buddies employ. There's so much you can report about.

    November 1, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  25. T

    I think they have bigger fish to fry than ONE woman living here illegally. I don't care who she's related to. Half the government officials in this country probably have 5 illegal immigrants on staff cleaning their homes or doing some type of odd job for them, and paying them under the table. Give me a break! Let's focus on people like, Palin for instance. She's always a hot topic. She was here in Asheville, NC about a week ago and asked the crowd if there were any REDNECKS in the building! I can see the deer and bear heads hanging in the oval office now.

    November 1, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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