November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
8 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. "

Full story

soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. LMM

    All these nutwings screaming that Obama is an illegal immigrant – do you really think the Democratic party would take such a risk on the Presidential candidate? Don't you think they've aired his closet, vetted his record, aired the risks? Something like this would have come up and been investigated, looked over, by dozens of lawyers.

    McCain was born outside the US too, you nutwings. The same law that allows him to be a legal citizen allows Obama too. You take it away from Obama, you take it away from McCain.

    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. Perusing-Through


    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 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. Angie

    "May be"? Why don't you wait to report this until you can confim it.

    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. dave

    So what? This is irrelevant. It's not even a criminal matter – but the Repubs will use it anyway, I'm sure, because they are desperate.

    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. DA

    So, what does this have to do with Obama? I mean think about it if she wanted to seek his help in this matter she could have asked for it before he ran for Office!! Therefore she probably has made an innocent mistake by not following up on her request. Good grief folks use some common since when stories like this pop up regarding the guy!!! I swear folks have tried to tear this man down over and over again. Yet he has never said one thing about McCain or Cindy past issues. I think it really says something to his character if you ask me.

    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. C Harris

    OBAMA don't have anything to do with this....

    I can't control what my uncles does.........

    McCain and Palin STUPID

    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. melissa


    November 1, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Taking into account all the crooks in Washington DC and on Wall Street that have crippled this country, this woman needs to be left alone and allowed to stay in this country.

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. anotherview

    There is no "maybe" to it. Read AP's story. She is here illegally, has been for four years, while Obama has done the all about me quest for the Presidency.

    No doubt we will be hearing from Barrack Obama that "he didn't know".
    Obama seems to possess a lot of ignorance about significant people in his life.

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Chas

    Ok, now let’s also ask a couple of different questions:

    1 Why does Mr. Obama fondly write about his aunt, but does nothing to share his wealth to keep her out of public housing?

    2 Why does she qualify for public housing with a deportation order pending?

    3 What about her FOUR donations (albeit rather small in size) to his campaign. Isn't it illegal for a foreign national to contribute, much less an illegal foreign national?

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Melissa

    I don't understand those of you questioning his citizenship – he has provided what the State of Hawaii says is it's proof of his birth in Hawaii thus making him a citizen.

    What more do you want from the guy?

    I've heard some say the original birth certificate. I'm a white girl from California and a citizen – I don't have my original birth certificate nor does anyone in my family.

    Get over it.

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Lynn in CT

    At least she didn't call 911 because there was traffic!

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Wacky Obacky

    Where is the tape (or at least transcripts) locked away by the LA Times of Obama partying with PLO terrorists?? I'm sure that they would do the same for McCain... We will find out the truth, and then the LA Times will become even less relevent than they already are.

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    Is that news-worthy? We know that there are millions of persons, from various countries, who are here illegally. Why not tell us something that
    is new and important.

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Shame on you CNN!! What about McCain's brother calling 911 while in traffic (a non emergent issue)?? Who cares about either?

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. Sue

    Mc Palin's people are pulling out all the stops, so close to the 4th.... who cares about that immigration issue. OBAMA'S still going to "WIN,WIN, WIN !!!! Canada votes for OBAMA!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. Forever Conservative -except 2008

    CNN seems to be working to close the race.Good job dude!

    November 1, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. mb

    Move on CNN, why would you want to put the safety of this woman in danger? AP & CNN should be ashamed. Maybe Obama Camp should put your reporters off the plane and the Federal Security Agency should send you a monthly bill, because now this woman will need round the clock security.

    Please Post

    November 1, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. Chips

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    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 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA



    November 1, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Brandy

    Who cares?! It's his aunt.. not him. Although I've been reading some of these comments.. HOW DO PEOPLE REALLY THINK THAT OBAMA WASN'T BORN IN THIS COUNTRY?!
    How do you people really live? YOU CAN'T RUN FOR PRESIDENT IF YOU WEREN'T BORN IN THE US!. So please... for the sake of yourself and society.... go read a book. I can't believe that people like you are even aloud to vote. It worries me.

    November 1, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. Marissa

    This is so unimportant. This story has nothing to do with Obama running for office. Although the repugs will think this is a story...they have been trying so long to find anything on Obama. They have been digging and digging and will continue to dig in hopes to come up with some %#$@! to throw against the wall, hoping it will stick.

    We (Americans) are too intelligent for that!!! I speak for most Americans and on Tuesday the world will see just how load we speak.


    November 1, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. Me

    Come on people. When my dad died, his brothers and sisters (living in a different country) made it clear they wanted nothing to do with me. I don’t know where they are or what they are doing. They could be living down the street from me (legally or illegally). Should I be responsible for this? If it turns out they are living in squalor am I a bad person for not searching them out and helping them.

    In addition, do people really believe Obama is not really a citizen (which is impossible since his mother is a U.S. CITIZEN no matter where he was born. ) If you really believe this, and this is true, then the government and immigration system has really failed us.

    November 1, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. Mike W

    One more nail in the Obama coffin. Are you watching the polls? Must be getting scary for the Obama crowd. I am still waiting to find out for sure Obama's citizenship status. By the way, how is his dying grandmother? We were told she was on her deathbed and could go any minute. Funny how after Obama visited Hawaii, the Governor sealed Obama's record.

    Go war hero MCain and sweet, beautiful, smart Sarah Palin.

    November 1, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. Larry

    WHO CARES!?!?!?!

    November 1, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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