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. "

Full story

soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. toby hill

    It's amazing how one can always tell something is really going to hurt the Obama campaign, all the supporters come out and claim that it's "not a big deal" even on something that appears to be criminal.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. V. Clausewitz

    Obamenomics.......where Spreading the Wealth starts at home.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. blkkbbeauty

    Mccain is AN Adulterer, and Wife Cindy is drug addict, and Palin has the Brain of a 6 year old and Joe the plumber is a fictional character and ......... must I go on !!!

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Tom

    The "who Cares?" response is fascinating.

    Millionaire has an aunt living in poverty.

    As an illegal immigrant.

    Receiving government housing, illegally.

    Making campaign contributions, illegally.

    Would be a good reason not to release your small contributor list, as Obama is not doing.

    I'll vote for him, but this is certainly more than "Who Cares?" caliber news.

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. ANDREW

    It is interesting how CNN is running this story and is not realy interested in the possible suppression of voters by the GOP resulting in taking away people rights to vote.. In light of the fact that the US goes around the world over seeing some other countries elections to make sure they are done fairly ie former president Jimmy Carter/ it is shocking that their own elections have been ripe with fraud in 2000 possible 2004 and now 2008 with the suppression of voters RIGHTS TO VOTE. The rigging of the voting machines in some states ie some voters have voted for Obama but the vote went to John Mc Cain, Now that is a very serious problem. It is called STEELING AN ELECTION. This is what they have accused Chavez ( Venezuala) of that some American country of doing this same thing with these same machines. Now the GOP is doing the same thing.( the only difference in the way the US does in their elections and those that they supervised in the violence) LOOKING ON FROM THE OUTSIDE.

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. To young to vote but still for Obama

    I can't say I'm really surprised, there are some families out there with this problem. Even though she "may" be illegal, she is "probably" not doing any harm to America's economy, or even security for that matter.

    The main argument against illegal immigrants is that the majority of them are Hispanics coming from Mexico to make money, then send it back to their families in their native country. This is a problem for the U.S. because the money then doesn't get put back into the U.S., through stores or other things that normal working families would spend money on. That being said, we do need to fix this problem, but seing as how we won't build a fence that will keep illegals out or make all illegals citizens, it's going to be tough to solve it.

    Though, I still don't see how a woman from Kenya that "may" be illegal is on the news, even if there is a relation between Obama. I'm sorry, but I doubt this tactic, not strategy will work to sway votes.

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Peter

    This is pointless

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Tom, KS

    So What! It's funny though how the Gov waited until this weekend to release this info. Clearly Bush is trying to make waves for Obama in hopes of knocking him off stride so close to the election. By keeping it under the radar until now, the story won't develop enough to be anything but an outlandish headline. I hope we aren't fooled again!

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. MH

    Stephen in Kentucky:

    No offense, but you need to WAKE UP and PAY ATTENTION to what has already been reported MONTHS ago.

    First of all, this story has NOTHING to do with anybody else's citizenship.....I have a friend who was born and raised here in the U.S. Yet his uncle was here in the country illegally. Does that somehow indicate that my friend is "less American born?" Just because one person in a family is an immigrant, it doesn't imply that everyone else in the family must be. It's simple logic.

    Secondly, this Obama citizenship issue is ridiculous. INDEPENDENT GROUPS have verified that Obama was born in Hawaii. Even the BUSH ADMINISTRATION has done so. And guess what? The Secret Service and / or other government agencies routinely do a scan of ALL candidates anyway to make sure they meet the minimum standards (birth in the U.S., age, etc.).

    If you don't like Obama, that's fine. But dislike him for his politics. And NOT for some stupid rumor that has been proven false multiple times.

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Matt

    who cares? Its not him..its his aunt. He is his own person. I seriously doubt his aunt will play a major role in the white house so why are we talking about this?

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. BigChili

    Look, CNN has to report stuff like this... I know it's stupid, and rediculous – But they have spent so much money trying to get viewers to watch their HUGE ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE. If it's a Land SLide (Like I think it's going to be) then people will turn off their coverage real fast, or not even watch it at all – They WANT the race to tighten – they want a close race, it helps with ratings...

    GO BAMA!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. MARK A. CARLISLE

    Obama knew this and recieved campaign contributions from her in september. What else is he hiding? Wake up America.

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. Joe Plumber Six Pack for Obama

    If his Aunt is living in Public Housing then they know she is here right? How is that Illegal??

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. 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 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. E.Lanser

    WHAT A JOKE!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. Bob Scander

    Anything related to the president and his family is our business to all the left wing junkies on this posting board. We need a man of integrity, honesty and a real leader. Obama needs to step up and address this issue if its true.

    November 1, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. Pearl

    CNN refused to let Obama purchase his 1/2 hour paid time on their station, yet the same night Mc Cain was able to receive free air time on the Larry King show. Campbell Brown, Wolf Blitzer and certainly Lou Dobbs are all anti-Obama commentators. Now CNN has decided a few days before the election to suggest a half aunt of Obama's absent father is worthy of news. Maybe someone should go after McCain's alleged relatives. This is really pathetic!

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    who cares?

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. Curt

    This story has highlights the issue of character. How can you elect a President who is complicit with this issue.
    I'm tired of Obama dodging these issues. Do the right thing and vote McCain.

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. S. Boatman

    Only Three Days Left . . .

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. Marilyn

    She should be deported just like any other illegal immigrant. Oh wait, Obama wants to let them all in. No wonder!

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  22. Bill

    Throw out the Dems and let her stay....

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. DC in GA

    And let's not forget that the Republicans themselves have declared that family members are off limits. If family is fair game now, let's get some answers to those questions that no one is allowed to ask about Palin's family. Which is more revealing about a candidate's values – the actions of a half-sister of a father a candidate never knew or the actions of a daughter bred and raised personally by a candidate. And then we can move on to compare an aunt who wants so badly to be an American that she won't willingly leave the country to a husband who wants so badly NOT to be an American that he joins a group supporting succession from the US.

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. AmericanFeminist

    Schroeder:

    HUH?

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  25. Lee from FL

    this story was also leaded by the bush administration.

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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