November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
8 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. So What?

    I agree with the majority who have posted here- This is hardly "news."
    It's irrelevant.

    November 1, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  2. Cindy

    Is this the October surprise? A little old lady living in poverty? HEY McCAIN, you are just playing to your base again. Keeping them angry and worked up. That is soooo Country First, NOT. Your campaign of divisive hate is tearing the country apart.

    Will the real, honorable McCain please return?

    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. Brent Birdwell

    I thought it was illegal for candidates to accept contributions from non-US citizens? But for BO, anything goes.

    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Indiana Joe

    Oh my God! This SO silly!!!! Number 1: FAMILY should be OFF-LIMITS in a campaign (even extended family). Number 2, this is a HALF AUNT who Obama is NOT CLOSE TO. Number 3, OBAMA IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HER... what do you want? Obama call immigration and turn in his half aunt? Number 4 Immigration issues are very complicated, you cannot report if you don't know the WHOLE STORY BEHIND... Maybe she is or was under political asylum. Number 5: WHO CARES? The half aunt is not going to AFFECT MY VOTE OR THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY!


    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Kendra in Indiana

    Well, at least we now know Obama is a real American. Even the future President of the United States is related to freeloaders like the rest of us. The republicans shouldn't mind provided she is cleaning their eight house or taking care of their kids. The like that kind of cheap labor.

    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. Mark Kahle

    Wow the republicans are out in force stating Obama is not a citizen..

    Ummm guys/gals..

    The federal government checks these things BEFORE you are put on the ballot...

    He is, and always will be a Natural Born Citizen...

    Second as one stated, how does one aunt from his father side have anything to do with this election, a father who abandoned him early in his life, who he met ONCE...

    Oh please give it up, and quit being desprate..

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08 12

    CLINTON 16 20!!


    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Soccer mom from Canada

    My question is?
    If her nephew is a senator why is she still unable to become a citizen?

    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. sandra

    Is aunti running for president? NOOOOO!
    I give more credit to Obama for not using his position in the senate in order to help her aunt.
    I hope my son will be like him.

    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  9. Berna

    Hi all.
    Africa is a free continent,let America welcome the old lady.Was the world not free before colonisaton? Who is An American? Majority of you are from Northern Island/Europe.Where is the native American?
    Please make a world a better place to live in and remove your stereotyping behaviour from your neighbours.
    Allow her dream come true.
    Lots of love to all

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

    the republicans has really proven one thing,that there are some really stupid people in can lie to them,scare the hell of them,and make them believe anything you tell them,by pure suggestion.i am so glad that there are people whom are more into fact ckecking than word of mouth.cnn,this woman obama's aunt,is really off limit to any of this that's going on .now you are bringing his family into this election process,which is totally should be ashame of yourself.

    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. Lisa

    You're joking – this is the "best political team on tv"? This is the best you can do, an unverified story on a relative? Give me a break... I'm very close to tuning CNN out...

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

    No wonder Obama wants to open our borders!

    November 1, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. Mark, my two cents

    what curious timing, to release this the Saturday before the election. coincidence?, probably not. every family has some skeletons, maybe we should investigate all the members of the McCain and Palin families.

    November 1, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. So Sad

    Oh thats it!

    I was going to vote for Obama because he's brilliant, has a plan to fix the economy, fix healthcare, go after Bin Laden, fix our schools, lower my taxes and change how we are perceived around the world.

    But, after this, forget it! Good work, McCain. You've convinced me you're the man for the job..........NOT!

    November 1, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. Dottie

    The story about Obama's relative is horrible....When you deport her ..deport the billions of Mexican you have let in illegally and given free housing and health care and Wic cards for all illegal babies ...Also pay there hospital bill to have babies.

    November 1, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. rob

    I look at all the fascist republican comments about this issue. I'm struck by one overwhelming thought: regardless if Obama has had any contact with his half-aunt or not, the conservatives would turn their own family members in if the situation was theirs. There is no family "values" when it comes to these people. For you see, the fascists won't even talk about the violence in Kenya that led this woman here. But, since she's black and Obama's relative, well, I guess that makes it all the more life threatening to the American way of life that conservative's hold so dear. CNN, well done. Now when the conservatives write about how unfair the media is, you can always point to this article about how Obama's aunt is a threat to the American way of life. You should pat yourself on the back.

    November 1, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Terry

    Who the hell cares, your going to ruin this lady's life when you can't even handle the problem of thousands coming into the
    US from mexico illegally? Give me a break.

    November 1, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. C Harris

    I will Say it again if you vote for McCain and Palin YOU ARE A FOOL!!!!!!!!!

    So what if she is illegal????? How many more People in US are legal

    McCain will START another WAR

    PALIN IS STUPID --It will scare me that she can be PRESIDENT

    November 1, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Mike, Land O Lakes, FL

    I just voted early for Obama. Please don't be complacent. Vote early. Call everyone in ur address book to make sure they vote early as well.

    November 1, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. JLB


    If you want to talk about shady characters you need look no further than into Cindy McCain's background. Her father made his money because he went to prison for the Las Vegas Mob and Kemper Marley. It's all there in black and white. Just Google either Jim Hensley or Kemper Marley. Give me a break we all have relatives that we'd probably just as soon forget, but John McCain is living off money that his father-in-law received in not the most respectable way possible.

    The McCain's have no idea what it means to be a middle income family or what it's like to live from payday to payday. My husband and I both worked for 40 years and retired with what we thought was a nice savings, but since 2000 that savings has been cut in half, while the Republican's were in control so you know who I'm voting for,,,,,,,OBAMA/BIDEN 08

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

    What about obama? He has not show prove that he is a us citizen?

    And this sentence show prove you need an education?

    November 1, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. Soccer mom from Canada

    May be an illegal imigrant? She is or isn't?
    Find out for sure before you report it.

    November 1, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Get real Sarah Palin

    Lame story. They can't even verify if its true. People always get too jumpy.

    November 1, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. JIM...TX

    John.."investigate Obamas birthplace" ??? Give it a rest and CONCENTRATE on issues. You Republicans have been digging in the trash heap for months trying to find crap on Obama with nothing much to show for it. Be grateful the Dems haven't been looking under McCains bed for useless junk talking points!!! VOTE OBAMA 🙂

    November 1, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Rob

    Ah who cares ... I do, what is she doing in govt housing if she isn't a US citizen? I pay taxes, I don't really approve when subsidized programs are abused by citizens, let alone non-citizens.

    On top of that, riddle me this: Why, with all the money Mr. O has pulled in as salary from his campaining, doesn't he put a little up to help his loving family out? I believe there is a saying that states "Charity begins at home."

    November 1, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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