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. Dave, Illinois

    Get used to it. The only rule of law under the DemoRats is the law of relavatism. Whatever suits their need is the new law. Time to cling to my guns and religion because working, law-bidding, people are scr@wed.

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. Mohamed

    Here are some ignorant questions about Obama:
    1- Is he American?
    2- Does he have a green card
    3- Do you think he has a driver's license?
    4- I doubt he graduated from harvard?
    5- His english is not fluent ....right?
    6- I just don't like him..do you?
    7- His friends are terrosrists?

    People...

    Do you really think he has been an IL senate for 10 years and a US senate without going through at least 100 back ground check.

    Only McCain can hire people without a background check or an interview.

    Come on...you have hard time because he is black....right?

    Well...if that's the case....get used to it. But please don't ask ignorant questions....it's just sad...thank you

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Federico

    And so? Even if – and we HAVE to say IF since these are NOT certain news – I say: WHO CARES??? I don't understand you Americans: your country is born from illegal immigration!!!! HOW MANY of your grandparents went to the American Indians and asked for a Green Card? They only stole, cheated, and killed!!! And slaved the Afroamericans! And what about now? Millions of Latinos, of Chineses still come to America, and a lot of them are illegal immigrants, but WHO CARES? For the rich guys this is good, because they can pay them less!!!! But, if, and I say IF, Mr Obama has an illegal immigrant aunt...OH MY GOD!!!!
    USA are in a bad point of their history right now. Economy is going really bad, Iraqi and Afghani war is far from ended, the common welfare and health is going worse...and you still think about these foolish things??? This point is where 8 Bush years carried you, you need a REAL change, not a president who comes from the same places, and would drive America in the same way, to the ruin!!!
    I'm Italian, I shouldn't be afraid, but you Americans lead the world in Economy and World Politic. If America is rich, we are. If America goes to war, we have to, because "We are friends" – our leaders say – and we have to help each other...but when you'll be wiser? When you'll send away people who only cares about rich ones, and who would kill EVERY AMERICAN MAN OR WOMAN for a oil gallon???? All the world's destiny is in your hands, RIGHT NOW, 3 days from now. I can't do NOTHING for you. You created democracy, you kicked off everyone who wanted you being slaves. Why don't you Americans help yourselves, once again???

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. me

    we want to know who's "aunty" is in washington(policy) and wall street(greedy)... 'cause that's what screwed us up!

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. Sarah- ARIZONA

    Who cares this is stupid... this will just get the hispanics onto obamas side.

    1st. she is in government housing so obviously there is a case going on here.

    2nd. i think some lawyer should sue the feds for leaking information on an on going case. this is truely illegal.

    3rd. shame on u cnn for not givign the facts and making it seem like the most horrible thing ever.

    4th. where is PALINS MEDICAL RECORDS?

    republicans will go down with this crap.... tehy are in trouble

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. Libertarian for Obama '08

    Couple issues with this article:

    1) Why are you reporting on this before verifying your accusations?

    2) How is this woman, aunt or not, Barack Obama's responsibility?

    What a crock.

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Tom

    I am sorry but we all need to follow the law and if she was suppose to be deported 4 years ago then she should be gone. I dont care if she is BO's aunt the law is the law.

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. kelly WI

    You will notice Obama doesn't spend his own money on his relatives here and in Africa living in poverty. He is anxious to take OUR money to give to them.
    Of course she is illegal. No "maybe" about it
    We don't need a socialist, marxist, communist for Pres. Vote for a real American. McCain.

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  9. Perusing-Through

    UHMMM . . . IS THE AP WORKING AS AN AGENT FOR THE GOP TO LAND AN OCTOBER SURPRISE ON THE OBAMA-BIDEN TICKET?

    If this is the best GOP advocates like right-leaning AP can do, than it is pretty weak.

    In the grand scheme of things where the nation is involved in two wars, an economic meltdown, skyrocketing unemployment, disastrous energy policies, record breaking foreclosures, unaffordable or no health insurance coverage, and out-of-reach affordable education – - – than a barely known relative from Senator Obama's barely known father is a NON-ISSUE!!

    GOD Bless the United States of America!
    GOD Bless the Obama-Biden Leadership Team!

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. GARY FLORIDA

    PEOPLE WHO STILL QUESTION OBAMA'S CITIZENSHIP SHOULDN'T HAVE A VOTE AS THEY ARE TOO STUPID TO READ. TRY CHECKING THE FACTS. THE DOCUMENTS ARE THERE AND HAVE BEEN FOR SOME TIME. TRY FACTCHECK.ORG. FOOLS.

    November 1, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. Rebecca

    Can't believe the Communist News Network reported this. Our intent was to file a lawsuit against CNN after this election for the scewed, often times directly false coverage of news. Dang it! This makes our case much less viable. Could CNN actually be aware of our lawyers circling? Go back to your tainted news. We're hoping that CNN will have to share their wealth with us!! Our highly educated group of folks who have been documenting this tainted reporting from the start. Go back to the CNN we've grown to love, we want your wealth!!!!!

    Only in AMERICA! Gotta love it!

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. megan

    WAKE UP U SO CALLED AMERICANS. OBAMA'S MOTHER WAS A US CITIZEN WHICH MEANS HE IS A CITIZEN. HE WAS BORN IN HAWAII WHICH IS A STATE IN THE USA. THOSE OF YOU WHO DOUBT THAT HE IS AN AMERICAN NEED TO TAKE A GOVERNMENT COURSE. MY GOD IGNORANT BECAUSE YOU'RE AFRAID THAT SOMEONE THAT DOESNT LOOK LIKE THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENT CANT DO THE JOB. WELL THE LAST 8 YEARS THE AVERAGE RICH WHITE DIDNT DO A GREAT JOB.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. Mike

    This is ridicolous. What has that to do with the elections? Cnn: shame on you! You know there are people out of there that doubt Obama is american. You're just giving them some gasoline for their false accusations. This is a matter that could have been discussed after the elections, since that has nothing to do with Obama. Shame on you! You don't use the racial issue, but you go very close. Racial rights are still a very delicate issue in this country. Obama won't win because he's black, not because he's not the best candidate. Sad, but true.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

    CNN I am really disappointed. There are stories about Palin's lack of producing her medical records, husband's AIP affiliation, taxes and corrupt activies in Alaska, which you have swept under the rug. Many people have family members with diverse circumstances. So what ? If this is such a big deal, then why haven't you done a story on Cindy's sisters like Huffington Post did? Or the glossed over reporting about the black McCains. Or McCain's affiliations with shady people. You have spent too much time picking every little inch Obama and Biden apart, while McCain and Palin with all of their ineptness has gotten tons of free rides. Remember fair and balanced?

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Independent Thinker

    Dear Obama Zombies,

    She is living in the US illegally in public housing that American tax payers must pay for, and that's just wrong from any perspective!

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. sue

    So, who cares? Why not report on Cincy McCain's drug addiction? If you are going to play the blame game, do it for both parties!

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Chips

    McCain wasn't born in the US either. He was born in the Panama Canal and Panama is not a state. Lets investigate this more. Is his adapted daughter a citizen? We can go on and on with this bull. We don't give two cent about the two men running distance relatives. We are just looking at the two of them being able to run this country to the best of their knowledge.

    McCain only have a high school educations and a military pilot license and graduated in the bottom.

    Obama BA degree a JD degree and was president of the Harvey Law review and a community originizer a state sentor a US sentor and you now see what a community organizer can do with a campaign. Maybe McLiar and McPalinLiar should have had some experience in being a community organizer.

    McCain military record was sealed. What's in those record that the American people should know. Is there some mental health problems? Why don't you media ask that his military record be unsealed?

    Chew on this for awhile.

    I know you want print this, but it need to be said.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. jl11108

    Is this the best dirt you can dig up on Barack Obama? This guy is as clean as you can get. CNN, you are becoming pathetic. Do what's best for our country and give us some real news.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. illegal contributions

    Excuse me. This is one of MANY illegal campaign contributions. Candidates are not allowed to accept contributions from people who are not residents of the US. Lets prosecute Obama and his campaign because this is the tip of the iceberg. The only reason he has been able to buy the presidency. He wants to redistribute everyone's wealth but his own-otherwise his own family would not be living in public housing using up OUR tax dollars!
    Come to your senses America!
    Vote McCain 2008

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. Schroeder

    I live on the border of Mexico. Illegal immigration iis a serious issue. Mexican nationals are treated swiftly and definitively. There is no gray area. You can't drive 50 years without seeing a Border patrol vehicle. It is not unusual to see the dead lying on the road during the harsh seasons.

    It disgusts me to know that tia Obama has casually lived in the states unmolested and probably comforted by the fact that Kenyans do not rise to the level of the war on Hispanics. The United States should apply illegal immigration policies unilaterally and equally – as opposed to sanctuary for the politcally insulated.

    For all of you who who perceive this as a non issue, when you see a dead child on the highway due to exposure when trying to find a better way of life juxtaposed to the comfortable lifestyle of Obama's aunt, try exercising logic and critical thinking when considering immigration and not blowing it off because it's some presidential candidate's aunt.

    Does this rise to the level of the economic woes of this country? Probably not. Does it raise America's ridiculous selective morality issue? Yes. It is a privilege to live in this great country. I find it troubling that a man running for the highest office doesn't find it a problem to know that his relative is in violation of the law of this land. But, in this time of anti-Mexican immigration and anti-middle eastern perceptions, an aunt from Kenya is small potatoes.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. theogracias

    Quick call Lou Dobbs, this is a national emergency!!!BWAHAHAHA

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. Denise Groves

    Leave her alone. We have millions of Mexicans living in this country illegally and I do not see the government rushing to kick them out

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  23. toby hill

    Did Obama know she was illegal? If he knew she was illegal, knew where she lived, knew she was ordered to leave by a judge then he is guilty of harboring a known fugitive. Sorry Obama supporters but the law is the law.
    BTW, she illegally gave money to his campaign and was living off the backs of taxpayers while being illegal.
    If Obama was President at the time this was found out then he could be impeached if he knew about her status.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  24. Trish Hussein - PA

    Why is this even an issue? WHO CARES??? I CAN'T AFFORD TO BUY GROCERIES THIS WEEK FOR MY TWO KIDS!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. Iykeman

    CNN You guys are really Stupid to report this

    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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