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. Voter in Miami, Florida

    Already voted for Obama. Doesn't make any difference what his aunt does. Many of us can relate. How does this affect anyone???

    November 1, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. Erick in Alabama for OBAMA!!!!

    First off, OBAMA WAS BORN IN HAWAIII. McCAIn was not born in the USA. He was born in Panama, Panama.Check it out for yourselves. Also, why is Cindy McCains sister NOT voting for John McCain? She hates her and Cindy doesn't even acknowledge her. She cuts her down because they have different mothers. Also, talk about PNAC and John McCain, which is a group that starts unneeded wars, and the many other scandals. Talk about how Palin wants to cede the union and mske Alaska it's own country and how she has yet to produce records. Talk about how researchers are still trying to verify if Panama is any part of the USA then. I could go on and on. So to this distant relative this is no issue. He can give the $260 back. When you donate, it goes by what you put on the forms. If you say you're legal then it takes that ont he computer. I guess the same way she got public housing. Maybe somewhere down the line, records got confused. This is a non issue. Talk about John McCain the adulterer and the liar.

    November 1, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Sarah

    Irrelevant story. Who cares????

    November 1, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. JULIA

    What does that have to do with OBAMA? Hope the day does'nt come where I will be judge by my auntie she was a stripper!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Adam

    Well even if she is here illegally, it is because she wants to be an American. Unlike TODD PALIN who wants to be the king of Alaska.

    November 1, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. Brenda in Evansville, Indiana

    If Ashley Todd taught the media nothing else, maybe it's worth confirm and double checking before running with a story so that the "maybe" doesn't have to be in the headline.

    November 1, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. Joe Regis

    This time no amount of negative campaign will work and the message will be clear on Tuesday that we are fed up with the repubs.

    The crissis and the mess we are in will determine the outcome in favor of the Dems that will have to fix the country and create jobs for ordinary Americans.

    Obama/Biden 08/12.

    November 1, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Gary in Portsmouth, VA

    Thank you for energizing the latino and other racial immigrants relative votes in Obama's favor. I don't think the republicans really want to win this election.

    November 1, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. sharon, newport news, virginia

    Have you got nothing else to do Republicans but spread this nonsense. How stupid!!!!! You all would stoop to anything, anythingSomebody has too much time on their hands. For those of you who still cling to the ridiculous notion that he is not a US citizen = read the Constitution for what qualifies you as a citizen If you are born anywhere in the world to a parent who is a US citizen, you are a US citizen. I was a Republican until this election. I have never been so disgusted with the vile, ignorant, nasty, dishonorable campaign that McCain has run. Our country does not need anyone as dishonorable as he is in the White House. He has taken his hero image and tarnished it with all the lies and implications that do not matter a hill of beans. He had more connections with Khalid than Obama and through his connection with Khalid he has a connection to William Ayers. But sending robocalls into Nevada yesterday in Spanish telling the Latinos if they go to the polls and vote they will be killed, took the cake. What does he see whne he looks in the mirro!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. Tam From MN

    What makes this story worth reading? Nothing at all! Please make yourself useful.

    November 1, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Linda

    hey Stephen...I guess proof, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
    Even if Barack Obama was born in another country or even another planet, as long as his mother was a US citizen his is a US citizen also.

    November 1, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. Toby

    She's here because she had to flee an undemocratic country beset with violence. I'm sure REAL AMERICANS (i.e. Republicans) will insist that she be sent back to die. Hey, that's the American way. Makes me so proud!

    November 1, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Gerald Shields

    Not revelant to this campaign at all.

    November 1, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. Mary (Texas)

    Obama spends money like there is no tomorrow BUT he can not help his own aunt????????? His aunt lives in poverty!!!!! It about time the media reported this!!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE IF HE WILL NOT HELP FAMILY WHAT MAKES YOU THINK HE WILL HELP YOU??????

    OBAMA IS OUT TO HELP HIMSELF AND NO ONE ELSE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. ever

    i am so sick to my stomach to see cnn drag a helpless woman person into this just to help mccain win .how low can low get ?if there is anything lordable about obama is that he has not used his position to help relatives unlike palin that uses her family and position to fire honest people.shame on you !shame on you all you make me sick!

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. Mike

    Someone in this thread rose the issue of illegal contributions. If those were illegal contributions, they must be returned. Come on, you cannot question the legality of the millions of contributions because of $50 given by a poor woman who may have thought to have done the right thing. This is no-sense. I am pretty sure that the Obama campaign has gone over each contribution, trying to see if those were legal or not. But this is no-sense: the McCain campaign gets millions from the the lobbies and that's perfectly fine; the Obama gets $50 dollars from an allegedly immigrant and you make such a fuss.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Guido in NJ

    WHO CARES???? I do..... Both candidates never discuss how they both support drivers licenses for illegals. ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION is a big issue especially if Obama is going to send all this folks a check. Now his definition of the rich is changing and quickly approaching my families combined income? Believe you me, I AM FAR FROM RICH.

    Why is it that Obama's issues are never a big deal but we are worried about how Palin gave birth to her kids – vaginal or c-section....what difference does that make?....Will that affect her judgement and character???? WAKE UP AMERICA?

    Question of the day? - WHERE IS REV. WRIGHT? I'm sure he will magically appear on January 20th to hold the Koran for the swearing in of the ROCK STAR.

    Democrats For McCain/Palin

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. The Rector

    As usual you are all missing the point, the president is a figurehead with no real power. He poses for photos with dignitaries and leaders and makes radio addresses and follows orders from the bankers and business leaders like a good little puppy. The chances of a true reformer getting the nod from either party to even attempt a run for the white house are, ... well it has never happened nor will it be allowed to. Right now some of you are saying- What about Lincolin, what about FDR, what about Kennedy... Check the facts about the performance of any president, in fact any government that has ever held power in this country and you will see the elite always come out on top at the expense of all of us. I am not supporting either of these two robots on tuesday, I will write in Ron Paul because this country needs to leave the two party system with it's death grip on our future behind and take the future of our government into our own hands. Yeah U know he's a Republican on paper, but if you will notice, he didnt get the nod, what does that tell you about his belife system? Join the majority of citizens in not supporting either of the big two, after all fifty percent turnout at the polls means half the country isn't represented. But if you are OK with twenty-five percent of your neighbors deciding the future directiion of your country, by all means keep on playing by "Their" rules.

    .....it is their right, it is their duty to THROW OFF such government and provide new guards for their future security....

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. Kathy

    Treat her no differently than anyone else in that situation. If it was Jane Doe, would she still be allowed to stay in government housing or be deported? This is just one example of the thousands of illegals here taking advantage of the taxpayer. I don't care who she is related to.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. Theresa

    I care because he is trying to guit us into higher taxes by calling McCain and Palin selfish. This whole issue of Obama's half brother living on a dirt floor in a hut in Kenya and now his Aunt who was kicked out of her apartment recently because of a couple of thousand dollars. Shouln't he take care of his own blood before he tries to guilt us into taking care of others? It is a curious issue to ponder.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. FOR REAL?????????

    CAN WE FORCUS ON THE REAL DEAL.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. Fredric

    They will have tried everything against Obama. Its always the case when someone comes as a savior of the US, and give back the image to the World of what the USA is about. No more Bush lies! Wake up America. It nice however to see that people are getting clarity and can move forward than being stuck in a party. Obama is a savior of the USA at all levels, thats why so many people want him to perish. We seem to have never moved forward than when JC was crucified for being a savior.
    The Universe evolves, we evolve technically but surely not mentally and morally and THATS THE PROBLEM.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. Raven

    CNN Needs To Stop Digging Trying To Find The Dirt On People....
    Has Anyone Seen The Media Doging Mcain For Anything??
    I'm Starting To See A Racial Issue Flairing Up.....

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. Matt

    People commenting should also be ashamed of themselves if they want an investigation into Barack Obama. Do you honestly think they didn't ask him for the proper paperwork on file to prove his legal citizenship and place of birth? He had to file that paperwork and if it was not legitimate, it would have been known by now. These are rumors and distractions that are derived from fear. People are scared of something different. This election is all about the issues. I will be choosing hope over fear and change over McSame and Failin.

    Obama/Biden '08

    GOTV!

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. KPhillips

    It is amazing to me that this is even a story. What does this have to do with the economy, the two wars being fought-NOTHING. Meanwhile, Palin's abuse of power and her charging her own state for travel expenses for her children practically go unnoticed, while she spews vile trash in her stump speeches. Obama has been gutted, fileted, and roasted by every inquiry, investigation imagineable. I will not be one of those people who are swayed by the slighest wind of adversity. This is just a lame, very lame attempt from the slimy Republicans to steal this election. The Republicans better remember we Americans will remember this stuff years down the road.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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