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. "

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soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. A voter who actually gets the facts straight

    Anyone who still believes Obama was not born in the U.S. should be deemed too stupid to have the right to vote. Hey, people–Hawaii is one of the 50 states! But PANAMA–where McCain was born–is not part of the U.S.!

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. phil

    Where is Palin's health records?????

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. Norah (Boston, MA)

    Possibly her immigration status, if anyone even cares, should be verified before this story is spread by the media this close to the election. This is just another attempt to smear Obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. TK, Dallas, TX

    A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

    The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp, "Why?"

    Replies the scorpion: "Its my nature..."..............DO NOT VOTE FOR mccain

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. sue

    So, who cares. Why not report on Cindy McCain's drug addiction?
    Give us all a break

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Jesus Praising, Freedom Loving American Patriot

    So typical of FOX SPEWS!

    All Anti-Obama, All The Time

    ----------–

    I like her. We should keep her.

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Kate

    Here is a newsworthy story .. WHERE ARE SARAH PALIN'S MEDICAL RECORDS? This woman could be the next vice president in 3 days. This is extremely important given that John McCain is 72 and a cancer survivor.

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  8. USA rocks

    How does someone that is here illegally in OUR country received welfare?? Could someone explain that to me? This is not a republican or democrat issue it is an American issue. Our tax dollars going to people that sneak into our country is an outrage! This is a national security issue, not knowing who is in this country.

    November 1, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. Jacob

    What does this have to do with Palin's medical records? Do you people realize Obama himself has yet to release his medical records? What a double standard!!

    This IS a relevant story, given Obama's personal wealth the fact that his aunt is living in a Boston slum on a small stipend shines a light into the way he practices charitable giving. (Remember his brother in Kenya living on $1 / day in a shack? Or his <1% given to charity?)

    Also, the fact her donations were accepted shows his campaign is not properly screening its contributions ($ from foreign nationals is illegal to accept).

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Dana

    Nice job CNN! "CNN has not been able to independently verify her immigration status"–sooooo let's go ahead and report on it anyway.

    Kudos on some fine filler 'reporting'

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Aeroheadkc

    This is sad that you people don't care that this woman is living illegally AND is getting public housing! We have US citizens being thrown out or their homes and we are paying for an illegal alien's residency? It is not that she is not hurting anyone, its the fact that this Country has rules. A judge ordered her to leave. Outrageous, just another shady incident. You can't tell me that Obama does not know about this I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't arrange it. Does this make Mrs Obama proud to be a US citizen now?

    Rev Wright- Who Cares!?
    2 links to shady people. Who Cares!!?
    How many more, I probably left a few out? Wake up people! This is our country. This alone is reason not to vote for this guy.
    I'm just trying to help you help yourself.

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. carol

    IF that is the case, then she is only one of many thousands of people living here illegally......I hope this is not another ploy to upset this race!!
    I also hope if this is proved to be false, that CNN will let that be known as soon as possible.
    That revelation does not change anything for Sen Obama....he is not an immigration officer!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. MG

    I signed my dog up for johnmccain.com so I could see the emails sent out to supporters. They are desperate. Brace yourself for more non-issues brought up over the next few days, because that's all they've got left. That, and making up false poll results.

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Critical Thinking

    Independent Vet: Why do you guys keep spewing lies? I don't understand why people embrace living in ignorance.

    As for non-citizens voting – speak type what you know. I have participated in many voter registration drives (and no, not with Acorn) and let me tell you – those who are either not citizens or are uncertain of their ability to vote are quick to let you know that they cannot vote (even when they are wrong). Unfortunately, there are so many people who can vote despite circumstances but just aren't educated enough on the law to do so.

    Yet the group who have a monopoly on being "real americans" feel comfortable with wrongfully taking away or hiding such rights. It's the american way, right?

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    OH MY GOODNESS.............ANOTHER ATTACK!!

    Give it a rest McCain, WE......DO.........NOT.........CARE!

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. kenny cole

    How does this got anything to do with the meltdown?how many illegal immigrant in the US

    November 1, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  17. Need Leadership in America which BHO doesn't offer

    No wonder Obama supports giving citizenship to all illegals.
    This man is unfit to be our president. He surrounds himself with criminals , will drive America towards socialism and American's are starting to realize this. Where is the news about the Zogby poll with McCain up 1.
    CNN and all the other liberal media are in the tank for BHO.
    I think the media is in for some surprises on election night, can't wait to see all their faces if BHO loses.

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Jim

    LOL! Obama's auntie lives here ILLEGALLY and is ON WELFARE!!!

    What's this about "Spreading the Wealth" OBAMA?

    I guess poor little auntie on Boston's welfare roll doesn't need Big Bad Barack's millions?

    What's up, he couldn't SPREAD ANY OF HIS WEALTH?

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. Wayne ( Canada )

    This is a ridiculous story. Grasping at straws. Smoke and mirrors.

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Sandra

    and....? Ah! I get it... it is also Obama's fault.

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. vm

    The dirt is coming out.... If he wins is only becuase of early voting,nothing else.God help us!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  22. Simmy

    Please – is that your Nov surprise? Obama isn't responsible for his whole family. Stop fishing for dirt to throw at our next president! Shame on you!

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. Pat in IL

    This is a ridiculous issue to waste news reporting time and space on. The Republicans are really stretching to try to make this an issue against Obama. Nobody is responsible for the actions of anyone but themselves, whether they be a relative, friend or acquaintance. Besides, the report says she "may" be here illegally. Please! What kind of reporting is that, if it's not even yet verified?

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. Sarah

    To Stephen up there in KY – umm...Obama was born in America and studied constitutional law. Even became president of the Harvard Law Review, do you know what that means?

    The press and the American people have had a long time to questions his values, his famiy and his pals. They've found nothing significant. Have you forgotten your girl, Sarah has been found to have a history of abusing power? John McCain's wife abused pain killers (oh and paid for them unethically too), he cheated on his first wife, has minimal education... let it go.

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  25. Sincerely

    Is it not the general norm that FAMILIES should be OFF-LIMIT?
    When the entire Conservatives cried LOUD while questioning the family morality during Bristol Palin's pregnancy report, how dare anyone trying to bring this up for political gains. SHAME to FOX NEWS who are keeping this as HEADLINE news and SHAME to anyone even discuss this in public.

    The real issue this country is facing is ECONOMY and the failed policies of the Bush administration and McCain the impersonator of BUSH should be defeated in this election for the common good.

    ENOUGH SAID

    November 1, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
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