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. James in Ohio

    So what who cares!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Charles Douglas Lemay

    No, she MAY not be an illegal immigrant, she IS one!

    She already has a legal deportation order against her!

    Can't you idiots get ANYTHING straight?

    November 1, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. mike

    my best friends grandma was illegal. no body did any thing to stop her from comming into the country

    November 1, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Teresa

    Why is this news? I am still waiting to see a CNN report on Todd & Sarah Palin's ties to the Alaska Independence Party. Why is that not news but this makes the ticker?

    November 1, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. john

    Exactly Tim, Obama doesn't even care about his own family. Do you really think he will care about yours. Wake up

    tim hopkins November 1st, 2008 9:21 am ET

    Is this really news? This is perhaps more of a reason to elect this guy. He has relatives who live in public housing, its clear that this guy is truly change. He is not a member of the power elite.

    Mccain 12 houses, 13 cars. Obama 1 house, 1 car, and family on public housing.

    thats change

    November 1, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. IndependentfromTexas

    Why does it matter? How is Obama responsible for someone doing anything in this world? These right wing thugs are out to get him with cheap shots. But, deport her if she is illegally here.

    November 1, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. huh

    Media desperate for an October surprise traverses into the extended family.

    November 1, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. edd

    What's the big deal?

    November 1, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. Mark

    So much for the families being off limits. Thanks CNN.

    November 1, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. rick

    Obama is too secretive.

    He's got more for the American people to find out.
    He's risky and scary.

    November 1, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  11. tim hopkins

    wheres the news? CNN dont stoop down to FoxNews level just to get ratings!

    November 1, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. Scoti

    CNN – Are you taking your story ideas from Fox News?

    November 1, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  13. cheryl

    She should be deported just like anybody else. No diffrent thatn the ones in my home state of Mo. In my city alone people are caught and told at least six diffrent times to leave before finally they are sent packing. As for Being Obama's half aunt ( yes half aunt, CNN forgot to mention that part, the other news sites did) if he is anything like my family, if you do the crime, you do the time. Just because somene is family does not me you get a free ride!

    Go Obama & Biden

    November 1, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. jon

    Once again CNN shows their bias in the use of this headline. Obama's aunt IS in the US illegally not may be!!! A Boston judge denied her claim four years ago and she has been living in public housing in South Boston since then. Not only is she living in the US ilegally, but taxpayers are paying for her subsidized housing. No wonder we just found out about her. What else is Obama hiding until after the election.

    Neither McCain or Obama '08

    November 1, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Former PUMA

    WHo cares? This election is so of course it's pathetic. All I heard today in McCains speech was Obama bashing and 3 sentences on keeping people in homes. McCain never said how, just that he would. Are we supposed to vote for him based on blind faith? Personally, I kinda like knowing our president has family in public housing, that he has family that is not perfect. So, a man with family in public housing, that may be illegal, is an elitist? McCain is such a blowhard. Between him and his sidekick Palin, the truth has been twisted and turned so much, there is no telling where the real facts in their speeches begin or end. Obama may have an illigal immigrant aunt, but the poster boy for the McCain campaign is a plumber without a license, who doesn't pay taxes!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. James in Ohio

    Who CARES???

    November 1, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  17. SA

    Shame on you CNN, family should be off limits

    November 1, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  18. Allah Bless Our Messiah

    This is 1860 folks. Except Obama is the anti-Lincoln. Out dear country will be a mirror of the Congo by April of next year.

    November 1, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  19. AmericanFeminist

    Trying hard to come up with some great philosophical, and intelligent comment. But, the only thing that comes to mind is a good old standby...

    "So What?"

    November 1, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. worriedmom

    Why isn't Obama taking care of his family? He preaches spread the wealth around but in fact he hasn't helped his own family member! Should be ashamed of himself. How can I believe he is gonna watch out for me, if he doesn't for his own family members???

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  21. Y

    Oh Please, I can't believe you would report a thing like this. If McCain had an Aunt from Great Britain living in the US illegally there would be no story. They would take care of business and give her a green card immediately.

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  22. Georgia for Obama

    Who cares leave the old lady alone,,,,,American got to much to worry about,,,,,,,people need jobs,,,,,,,I bet McCain got something to do with this

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  23. Wally©

    This is a non-issue...really !!!

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  24. SO?

    SO?

    Issues people. Issues.

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  25. RJay

    Give me a break! Please find something with substance and report it! I know it's easy to disappoint your audience, CNN, but do try to find a story that has something to do with the economy or try focusing on facts instead of "maybe"... :-)

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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