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. West Palm Beach Florida

    Get out and vote guys. Obama/Biden

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. Kate

    you have sunk to a new low, please leave the poor woman alone!!!! is everyone accountable to all their relatives??? Barack grew up with his white family, how is he supposed to be accountable to all his Kenyan relatives that he never knew?? just grow up CNN and have some common sense.

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. dcgirl675

    To those who are asking if Senator Obama is a true blooded American : he was born in HAWAII so that makes him a US citizen.
    Senator Mc Cain was born in the US Base in -- PANAMA. That makes him a US citizen as well. Now, let's turn the table : what if Senator Obama was born in Panama and Sen Mc Cain was born in Hawaii ???? I'm sure these Republicans would make a BIG, BIG deal out of it.

    Give me a break. Senator Obama has every right to run for presidency.

    And leave the old woman alone.

    November 1, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. nick

    this is for the anti-Obama comments regarding his own citizenship and the "shady" characters in his past-

    Really?

    Do you honestly believe that on of the two largest political parties is going to through millions of dollars and incredible amounts of time to someone who isn't even eligible to run for ublic office. Really?

    And as for the shady characters- who of us has never spoken to someone who has broken the law? I'm talking about those guys in college that were really nice guys but always seemed to be strung out on something. Or what about when you were 19 and decided that the drinking ticket possibility wasn't enough to stop you from "breaking the law". So quit thowing (sadly uninformed and ignorant) stones until you can look at yourself and be proud of your own god-like existance.

    Really?

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. S. Boatman

    Is This The October Surprise? . . . Oh Wait. . . Its November! Here Is A Suprise For You. . . I Was Voting For Mccain But Now Im Voting For Obama . . . SUPRISE!

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  6. greg Kowal

    Braking news...

    McCain has 2 illegal immigrants working for him. They are both Mexicans and they take care of his 9 houses... !!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. marianna

    She should be deported.

    with her nephew

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. Sluggo

    the people posting here who still think Obama is not an American are beyond ignorant.

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. ham

    does it really matter.....america vote for barak...he is a great leader

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. BG

    Are you kidding ... is this REALLY a question ???

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Donna

    The issue of Obama's citizenship has been investigated and established. Anyone who claims there is "still" a question is relying on internet smears and nonsense.

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. AMAforObama

    So round up the illegals in America and let's see who is going to do the jobs most Americans think are beneath them = economy in the tank!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. DEMs_No_Clue

    We need laws for Democrats and laws for Republicans. Then maybe we can make sense of why it is ok for Dem's to break the law and not ok for Republicans.

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. Irritated in Atlanta

    Who cares! Come on Right wing, you can do better than this I know! Shameless!

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. Independent Voter

    CNN you have lost a viewer. You all are no better than FOX or NBC news. You all are trying to manufacture an October suprise. What does this have to do with anything...... Why aren't you investigating McCain's Family, relataionship with the Keating 5 or why he will not vote for veteran benefits and Mrs. Plain's ties to the AIP and why she is getting away with abusing her executive power and letting rallies become radical hate rallies. CNN I expect you of all news networks to be fair and consistent but I see that you are not this is disapointing. I will find my news somewhere else.

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. Thurman

    Will this put illegal immigration back on the table?

    November 1, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  17. Dannette

    Let's talk about the costly war, the ignorance of Palin, the housing crisis, what are we to expect from McCain as president? Mccains friendship with Liddy! (terrorist)

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  18. Gilbert

    I wonder what Joe the Plumber would say about this!

    His opinion seems to matter a lot to republicans on a lot of issues he is not qualified to discuss.

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  19. libs be dopes

    "I am my brothers keeper....I am my sisters keeper" *

    This from Obamo's coronation speech....

    * this offer does not apply to family members if I have to use my money

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Jan

    Of course the Dems will stick up for this lady–anyone else would be sent back–not the "messiah's" aunt. Why should she get preference over other illegals? Of course Obama knew about her and used her to bundle for his campaign. If his own Aunt has been used for illegal campaign contributions–how many more illigals did he use?

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. A Latte Lover, Seattle, WA

    Is this suppose to be a game changer???? LOL. More desperation from the McCain campaign! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!

    Already voted for Obama/Biden, 08

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. an example of YELLOW JOURNALISM

    First of all, it's an administrative matter. Secondly the original AP story is wrong, the Housing Authority is not obligated to and normally does not look into a potential resident's immigration status. Third, this area is hardly a slum...anyone who knows South Boston would know this.

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. C Harris

    Palin is in the country illegal WHY? Because she is STUPID and running for Vice President.

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. teri

    Why don't you include the facts in your sensational headline. She is the HALF SISTER to Obama's estranged father. Also include the fact that according to AP someone from the Bush administration leaked the story.

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. formerblue

    love how you bo fanatics spew accusations onto the other side, refusing to address this issue directly. Fact is, neither candidate is perfect, neither are any of us posting here. Let issues be discussed fairly without deflecting. It's really scarey how everyone wants to protect bo from valid questioning. God help us all! An illegal immigrant living in government housing is an issue. Can you imagine how mccain would have been skewered over this? Turn about is fair play. We are fighting for our lives and livlihood. This is still the United States of America, not the u.s. of barrack!

    November 1, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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