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. Perusing-Through

    UHMMM . . . . ?

    IF A DISTANT AUNT WHO OBAMA BARELY KNEW, THROUGH A FATHER FOR WHOM HE ALSO BARLEY KNEW, IS IN PLAY . . . .

    . . . .THAN DOES THAT MEAN McSAME's TREATMENT OF HIS FIRST WIFE AND THE CHILDREN SHE BIRTH AND ALL HER RELATIVES ARE ALSO IN PLAY?

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. JACKED-UP-POLITICS, FLORIDA

    And so are how many other immigrants. If you are going to call out one call out all others. And if you are going to ship one ship out all others.

    November 1, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. travis

    Yeah CNN. I can't wait for your next story that is linked directly to Drudge's Home Page. "Obama Caught Shaving Strokes From his Golf Score"

    November 1, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  4. Ed

    Is this news? Is CNN playing into the McCain/KArl Rove game? The reporting had been honourable to date but this takes a nose dive!

    November 1, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Tom

    This is ridiculous and obviously a last gasp effort by the McCain campaign to dredge up anything it can against Senator Obama. The McCain campaign has been absolutely shameless on the measures it will employ to discredit their opponent. I am an independent voter and John McCain's approach in this election has repulsed me completely. The McCain campaign has ignored the issues and has done nothing but focus on negative campaign tactics. I will vote for Barack Obama because he is focusing on the issues, is conducting a credible campaign, and actually has a plan to move this country forward in these difficult times. John McCain is appearing as a grumpy, partisan, and Washington insider candidate. I endorse change by Barack Obama and John McCain is all about 4 more years of failed Bush policy.

    November 1, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. Louis

    What happened to "Family are off limits." That seemed to apply for Palin.

    November 1, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. iv64

    I have about 30 aunts and uncles, 61 1st cousins, I hope one ever holds me responsible for any of their actions. I can't help that I know them.

    In addition I read the AP report that states that her new appeal for asylum was denied yesterday. So she is not even illegal yet.

    November 1, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. Curt

    This story 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 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. AC

    Looks like the Obama-bots are swarming into this comment section. Obama should have reached out years ago to help out these relatives rather than not even trying, even if it was a token effort. At least an effort could be looked upon as being genuinely concerned about their welfare. Taking no action to help reflects poorly on his ability to make good decisions.

    November 1, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. Ball11

    Go Obama!!!
    Don't Listen To These Jelous People!!
    Your Gonna Win Anways!

    November 1, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. David Shaw

    another shining example of the doulbe standards put forth by the obama mentality. Illegal? huh who would of guessed and on the government dole, huh who would of guessed. We are paying for 10 million people who are bleeding this country dry and obamas family is part of the problem, huh who would of guessed that. im going to throw up again

    November 1, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  12. Russel

    This Obama fan says give the job to Mc Cain.
    There must be a better job for Obama.

    A future position as:

    President of the United States of the World.

    November 1, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. word up

    Personally I don't think this has anything to do with Obama and his campaign, though it might require some explaining. Nobody can be responsible for their relatives, but if we are holding relatives accountable, let's take a look at Palin's crazy husband who took advantage of her role as governer for his own benefit. And we can't forget McCain's drug addicted wife. The American people will hopefully see that this has nothing to do with anything-

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Bill_ MA

    Being such wonderful Christians, republicans surprise me with their heavy burden of selfishness,greed, distrust of others,cheapness, false pride, lack of humility,arrogance, self importance, malice,etc. God must love you because you are such nice people. Perhaps you can put in a good word for us Democrats.

    November 1, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. G in BR

    To Stephen and Independent Vet:

    In this day and age, do you really believe that someone, let alone a black man, would be allowed to run for this type of public office and not have his/her credentials (i.e. citizenship) thoroughly checked??? Do you really believe that??? You can't be that ignorant, can you??? Please find the real reason you despise this man in your heart and just say it. It will make you feel better about yourselves. People like you make me laugh!!

    November 1, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. jim

    Where are Palins Medical Records

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. JACKED-UP-POLITICS, FLORIDA

    CNN YOU ALL ARE BEGINNING TO SMELL, LOOK, AND SOUND LIKE FOX NEWS.

    FUNKY, FOUL, STINK, AND ROTTON!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. deb-

    It's an issue, because as American's we are paying for her to live in public housing while her nephew is living in a million dollar mansion across town. How despicable!

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Thomas T. Minja (Tanzania - East Africa)

    So what.. Leave the lady alone.. Illegal immigrant.. Illegal immigrant.. Where is the proof.. And if she is what does the Obama campaign have to do wit her.. STUPID.. Dont you have something else to talk about..

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. Mohamed

    SEARCH >>>

    HOW MANY AIRPLAINS DID MCCAIN CRASH WHILE HE WAS A PILOT?

    AND YOU TALK ABOUT TAX MONEY!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. Elecktor

    Obama's Aunt should be allowed to stay once he becomes president, and I'm confident he will make sure she does. Probably it would be good if the rest of the family and maybe some of their friends were allowed to emigrate too – Kenya is a dangerous place.

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Get Real

    Observation....
    has anyone noticed that McCain NEVER brings his 'dark skinned' adopted daughter to ANY of the campaign events in 'Real America'

    Cindy and Meghan are always with him..... Why is that? Could the same person who smeared him about Bridget in 2000 be tellign him not to? I would have had more respect for McCain if he would bring her out more to show his diversity.

    Do not give me the crap about her beign in school... because Sarah Palin has pulled her kids out every chance she gets to use as props in her Hockey Mom personna. McCain is only runnign for president of the 'Real America' which is why he is Afraid to bring out Bridget.

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Rich

    And this effects me how? Silly..

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Forever Conservative -except 2008

    If Mc Cain is chosen I can see its influence in the world coming to an end. The current crisises provide both opportunity and threat. I guess we will soon see which wins. Is it we:

    fight......; fight.......; I am not afraid to fight or

    UNITE under the flag as 1 USA
    Its your choice

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. David Shaw

    oh and the obama bin laden ticket will lose next week

    November 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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