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. V. Clausewitz

    Uhhh, let's see. My tax dollars supporting someone who shouldn't be here instead of a US citizen who is entitled and might be in need? You lunatics on the left just don't get it. Did you all go to school, or are you waitng for Obama to send you?

    November 1, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. No2RepubGimmicks

    John McCain won't touch this, at the risk of alienating the few latinos that didn't jump ship when he abandoned the immigration issue to win his party's nomination.... however, this is a new McCain, so there's no tellin'.

    I can imagine the Alaskan with that uber annoying voice make mention of it.

    November 1, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. Democratic Vet

    Independant Vet, you are mistaken. Obama is an American citizen, id he wasn't he wouldn't be able to run for president.....DUH!!!!! You see how simple the logic is. You like so many others find little lies about Obama swear to God they are true so you can justify as to why you will not vote for him. You know he is the better candidate...yet you are just uncomfortable with a HALF black man in charge...its ok...bless your heart.

    AMERICA IN 08!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Richard

    It is amazing that at this late date some people are still trying to pretend that Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

    November 1, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. NOW I KNOW WHY WE NEED TO SPREAD THE WEALTH

    YEA! SPREAD THE WEALTH -THERE YOU GO.

    November 1, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Dori

    Congrats to the REPUGS!!! I'm sure this tasty lil piece of juicy DIRT will do Obama in politically-NOT!!!!! Too bad, try as they may and sure do, the Repugs have a heckuva time dredging up any real and not almost entirely manufactured and imagined dirt that actually consists of any real stickiness to throw at Obama/Biden. Too bad, let's shed some real huge alligator tears for the Repugs bums who BADLY need to be thrown out of the political arena for once and all and forever! Any American who still longs for any kind of Republican influence in American politics after the last 8 years of HELL is unpatriotic and un-american and should be ran out of the USA tarred and feathered flying high on a flagpole of some country that BELIEVES in dictatorship like Bush has managed to flourish in this once great nation!

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Jim

    When can we talk about McCain throwing his first wife under the bus?

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. Denise

    Absolutely mind blowing that the dems will excuse ANYTHING wrong with their messiah!! In his book, he writes of how we need to care for our families, how we are our brother's keeper, how he CARES SO MUCH FOR US AND WILL DO EVERYTHING TO TAKE CARE OF AMERICANS! Yet his aunt lives in squalor ILLEGALLY on our tax dollars, his brother lives in a hut. Are all the democrats blind?? That's exactly how he'll take care of YOU! With words, not his actions. How blind and stupid can one be???

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. Critical Thinking

    If the repubs jump on this, guess what will happen to the hispanic vote? The only problem is that the hate and fear in the repubs own hearts has kept them from thinking logically.

    Poor McCain.

    I will say that the way each campaign has been runned speaks volumes about how each candidate operates and leads. People keep talking about experience. But just think, competitive companies do well by recognizing the benefit of new ideas & innovation. Experience is good, but sometimes it can cause an org to be stagnant and stuck in old ways which in turn hinders progress.

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. West Palm Beach Florida

    I early voted for Barry Obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Independent voter

    Obama was born in Hawaii. For those Republicans that might not understand, Hawaii is part of the USA. His birth certificate is validated and secondly, he wouldn't even be able to hold a Senator seat if he was not a citizen. So get off it and get your facts straight. NO ONE CAN WORK FOR THE U.S GOVERNMENT UNLESS THEY ARE U.S CITIZENS !!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. Tired

    Don't we have enough to this about. The media ought to be a shame. I am so sick of hearing about this petty stuff. We have more importance things to focus on. I don't like turning on the news because of all the negative political garbage I have to listen to. The media has turned this into a Joke.

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. mume

    whatever Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  14. Curtis

    Why don't you report on McCain and his membership with a proven anti semite group and Palin paling around with the ALP.

    November 1, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. John from LA

    There's more where this came from!!!-and all you bots say he's new and change is coming-HA!
    He's as old and as dirty as any politician!

    Have fun America-we as a nation will never learn from past mistakes-meaning-we've had a novice for 8 years-Why put another one into 1600 Penn. Ave???

    November 1, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. Shyla Swamy

    How is Obama responsible for his half-aunt's immigration status. Then shouldn't John McCain be held responsiblr for Cindy Mccain's criminal drug stealing. What Cindy McCain did was CRIMINAL. She stole drugs from a charity. Is John McCain then Responsible ?

    November 1, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  17. Minnesota Gal

    Don't you think, S in KY, that they have already looked into Obama's citizenship and determined it isn't a story? I mean after all, he didn't just start campaigning yesterday. I was born in Puerto Rico and can president....better be nice, perhaps I'll be elected someday.

    November 1, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  18. Arin

    Underscore the primary point... the US government denied this woman asylum.... shame on the US. And also note, this is the October surprise. McCain and Bush timed the release of this news because , this is a government sensitive information, State Department kind of info.

    November 1, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. Michael N.

    Lou Dobbs isn't on tonight right? Wouldn't want him to explode on TV over this... hahahaha...

    November 1, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. John Wilson

    Is this a lame attempt at a September surprise? Is the insinuation here that Obama supports illegals?

    It is well known that Obama's relationship with his father's side of the family is very limited. This story has nothing to do with Obama. I'm not even sure why it aired.

    Also, the people talking about Obama's citizen citizenship have been listening to right wing talk radio too much and sucking up the propaganda hook line and sinker. Obama already produced his birth certificate. He grew up in Hawaii and is a US senator. Give it up.

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. Jake

    What does this have to do with anything? It's her problem. Not his.

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Monica

    IT HAS BEEN CONFIRMED THAT OBAMA WAS BORN IN HAWAII PEOPLE. GET OVER IT!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Maureen

    Of course we don't hear about how many illegals John and his wife have because he doesn't know he doesn't even know how many houses he has you think he know the staff come on now – get a clue! and by the way Leave the OLD LADY ALONE – just because she's related it doesn't have anything to do with President-elect Obama

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. sjp

    obviously this will be blown out of proportion, but it would be very surprising that the obama campaign didn't have this covered. the big question still is what does this have to do with the american economy, health care, energy, ect, ect. . last 4 days, vote the issues.

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Paul NYC

    How low can the media go ? WE DON"T CARE !!!!!! No more McCain/Bush/FAILED administration policies running OUR country !

    Vote Obama/Biden

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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