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. Molly

    LEAVE THE OLD LADY ALONE YOU JERKS!!!
    I HOPE OBAMA WILL GIVE PAPERS TO ALL THE DECENT ILLEGAL PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY (LIKE THE LADY THAT TAKE CARES OF YOUR KIDS AND CLEAN YOUR HOUSE BY THE WAY)

    JERKS!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Sandra Bussard

    I can't believe comments that are still questioning Obama's U.S. Citizenship. He was born in Hawaii, a U.S. State. His Mother is a white woman from Wichita, Kansas....an American. That makes him an American. His Father, was a foreigner national from Kenya. They met while in college in Hawaii. Obviously, when his parents named Barrack Hussein Obama as a baby, they didn't know at the time that he would someday run for President of the U.S. Check the facts, before you share your opinion. He's half white, but he's not white enough? Don't be ridiculous!

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  3. McFailing

    Why are you guys not asking why Palin has not released her medical records till now? This is legitimate and serious. Yet, you guys are not talking about it. Please, be fair.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. LOL election

    Oh geeze.. the woman was denied political asylum. Had she not come to the states she could have been killed along with the other 1,500 people in Kenya.

    Oh and the robots that keep calling Obama a non US citizen, um John McCain was born in Panama!

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. Joshu Wanjala

    Common CNN give Obama abreak. How many people know half sisters to their father/mother in Africa. My dad has 5 wives, his other two brothers have 10 each. I have been to USA as consultant for over 15 years, I even dont know some of my step brothers and sisters. Should I be held responsible for all my father's and uncles' siblings leave alone their half sisters and brothers. Come on guys be practical. This is a dude who was abandoned by the father. Obama owes his siblings/half siblings and so called relatives in Africa nothing.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. Nicole

    Yes, it's a juicy piece of gossip, but at the moment that's all this "story" is. Why on earth did you post it before you got some sort of confirmation? Is CNN employing Perez Hilton now?

    I am far more interested in, say, an expose on the Palin ties to a secessionist group. Oh, wait. Credible news outlets have already handled that.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. DE

    Quite frankly wether she is illegal or not, she is Barrack Hussein Obama's Aunt who is living in low income government housing. He wants to spread your wealth around, but he won't part with any of his millions for his own family. He wants you to take care of his low income family members too.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. michele

    this is so ridiculous!
    this entire election is worse than high school...

    how could anyone want mccain running our seriously problematic country, throw palin in and we are going down!

    mccain is in no position to point fingers, nor is palin.
    mccain is an adulterer and cindy and former drug addict and thief.
    where are sarah palin's medical records? is trig really hers or one of her daughters who will be practicing abstinence?

    the entire republican lot is a horrible lot of humans. they do not believe in peace or the country, they only believe like bush in themselves.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. Paul

    Seriously, who cares?

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. Edward Shibley

    another non-story from CNN, thanks for the great election coverage guys

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. Randy

    So, that means she's Cheney's cousin too, right? :)

    Seriously, the one thing I think we can count on is that Barack Obama, if elected president, will not innapropriately use his office to affect this case. That would be far too Palin-eaque for him.

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

    and my aunt is crazy, but dont pin that on me.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Vince

    .
    .
    God only knows how many other ILLEGAL ALIEN RELATIVES O'samabama has in this country! I bet ACORN has 30 of his counsins...
    .
    .

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  14. Ohio Voting 4 Obama

    Trying again to post....

    D.E.S.P.E.R.A.T.I.O.N.

    By contrast, the Obama campaign has not once raised the issue of Gov. Palin's coziness with secessionists.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  15. Carlos

    CNN. If you are unable to independently varifuy the faces of a story, perhaps you should not print it until you do.

    There is a lot of crap that comes from the UK; indeed, some "papres" there put the National Enquirer to shame. To base a story that could have serious consequenses for any individual based on incomplete and potentially false information is irresponsiblilty at its best!!

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. jenn

    Well, I guess we should talk about the tens of thousands of $$ that McCain received from foreign donations, if we're going to attack an old woman's alleged $5 to $25 donations, eh?

    Good grief, this is so stupid I don't even know where to start. Do people really think we should all be held responsible for the actions of our relatives, even distant relatives? Yikes. Next thing you know, McCain will be held responsible for his wife's stealing and drug addiction.....

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. E.C.Coleman

    There are Laws AGAINST HARBORING AN ILLEGAL ALIEN.
    If This Woman was DENIED ASYLUM by a JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES, then she should not be LIVING in this country.
    That Obama knows this FACT and BREAKS the LAW of the UNITED STATES.......
    means that this OBAMA......
    WHOEVER HE IS.....
    and WE DO NOT REALLY KNOW......
    is trying to be president of this country and.....
    DOES NOT uphold the Constitution of the United States.
    Get REAL AMERICANS.
    The PRESIDENT must place his hand on the BIBLE, in this case, THE KORAN, and Promise to GUARD AND PROTECT AND UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!
    IS THIS THE DISHONEST TYPE OF MAN YOU WANT TO LEAD THIS COUNTRY??????.........................
    OR Senator John McCain......
    A MAN WHO HAS GIVEN HIS LIFE IN SERVICE FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR OVER 30 YEARS....
    AND WHO HAS SHOWN AMERICA THAT HE IS A REAL PATRIOT?

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Kris

    if you can't see why this is relevant then we are going to have real problems. This women is living in the US illegally and being cared for by US tax dollars. I do not go to work everyday to support illegals so they can live off the system. Also, she is contributing to his fund by using OUR tax dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The only people this wouldn't trouble is those who are living off the system themselves. Get off the couch and get a job. Also, why isn't his family taking care of him? Obama seems to have plenty of money. This tells me plenty about what type of person he is.........

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. Tennisguypitt

    I can't wait for the McBush camp to slam this...

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Steve G

    Maybe she can find Barack's Kenyan birth certificate

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. Desperate Times Desperate Measures

    There a list of NEGATIVES on the Republican Ticket that can derail Mccain:
    1. Donate $500,000 to Khalidi
    2. Cindy does business with Sudanes Rebels and Cuba firms against the US trade embargo on Cuba.
    3. Cindy's companies ships jobs abroad.
    4. Todd Palin member of Alaskan Independence Party that wants to secede from the Union. Sarah Palin a Sympathizer to their cause.
    4. Sarah left Wasila with a debt of over $20million and a court case. Promoted her church beliefs in government violating the US constituition (1st and 2nd Amendment rights)

    Where are these newsworhty items but you run with this fresh unconfirmed news leaked by the Bush Administration and RNC.

    November 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. annetta

    One would think that in that big swanky house in Chicago there would be a room for his aunt.

    November 1, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. McFailing

    Stop talking about an October surprise. This November stupid!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. Bob the cook

    Republican make me sick. Especially the extreme right that goes against ANYTHING JESUS ever advocated.
    What would Jesus do??? Who he deprot this poor old lady.
    You Republicans are the epitomy of hate and selfishness!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. jeffrey

    are you americans crazy to vote for ...

    November 1, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
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