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. sam

    Does this pay your mortage or high tution or does it reduce the high medical bill. Lets get serious and talk about important things in this election. Obama's aunts stay in the USA has no reflection on him.
    I edge all news media, to report important things that will move us forward as one nation.
    God Bless America

    November 1, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. grace

    Wow, CNN I have lost all respect for you. And this matters....how? Isn't there real news to cover in the world? Leave the old lady alone.

    November 1, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Sebastian Heinz

    The fascists are out in full force again. If McCain wins, we can all expect a nice little Gestapo action around here. That will be interesting...

    November 1, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. bill

    How many of you, wo are questionig BO citisenship, know where McPain was born? How about Palin’s AIP involvment? Where are stories on this CNN? Is anyone investigeting this?

    November 1, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. Pushpinder

    Shame on CNN or McCain People who are doing this...................................................

    November 1, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Wamu

    1) Not a citizen
    2) Made political contributions to Obama campaign
    3) This is illegal, throw her OUT!
    4) is CNN not smart enough to comment on the illegal donation, can't put one and one together??

    November 1, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Obama

    Obama will win. screw you Reps

    November 1, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Adam

    seriously, why is this news? we have two exceedingly capable candidates who are remarkably well-read on the issues, and this crap still comes up. this is too important an election for meaningless trivia like obama's aunt.

    November 1, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. Linda

    Not criminal? Since when is being illegal not a criminal act? BTW, I cannot believe how upset all you are over this article. You running scared now? McCain in 08!

    November 1, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Anonymous

    that is a big deal tax payers are paying for her to be here that is not right

    November 1, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Sandra

    It's the economy, stupid.

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. Rock the Vote

    First off, CNN might want to learn to CONFIRM stuff before that post it as news. "MAY BE..." Really? You post news that has MAYBE's in it now?

    Secondly, Obama has nothing to do with his HALF aunt's (that he doesn't have a deep relationship with) deportation status. If she was rejected for asylum, and is still living in public housing, that is the problem of the ADMINISTRATION! Which is Bush's administration, for not keeping current tabs on her whereabouts and getting her through the system efficiently. That is not Barack Obama's fault. Because let's be honest, if he had tried to help his aunt, detractors would cry he's abusing his power, and if he helped get her deported, the same detractors would be screaming he kicked out his poor immigrant aunt. He can't win either way with some people.

    But who cares, right? Let's throw this woman to the wolves! Let's ignore the bigger issues like the VP candidate Sarah Palin being in violation of ethics in Alaska, or her husband being in the AIP party. Or McCain funding a project in which Khalidi was apart of, but he made sure to point fingers at Barack for being at a dinner with him and respectfully disagreeing with his views.

    How about some responsible reporting, CNN?

    November 1, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. eman2323

    So the AP "story" is based upon someone in the Bush Administration who broke the law and looked for a friendly place to "release" this information on the weekend before a Presidential election?

    This is a non-story until AP goes public with the name(s) of its alleged sources so they can be promptly arrested and charged.

    Giving this non-story space is nothing but sad and despicable rumor mongering.

    Shame on the media.

    November 1, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Pushpinder

    I would say this indicates this is family of "struggles for survival"

    November 1, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. tiff of Lithia Springs

    Stephan of Kentucky,

    Being the President is an applications process. That should have been address at that point if it had any validity.

    GET A GRIP!!!

    And here is your first pronunciation lesson!!

    PRESIDENT OHH BAA MAA

    Say it with me.

    PRESIDENT OHH BAA MAA

    November 1, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. CeeJay

    If anyone with any authority at CNN reads these posts I hope you can tell us why this is news.

    November 1, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. sophia nyc

    Why don't you make certain before starting rumors. Or would you like to have another 4 years like the past 8?

    November 1, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Shelley in Oregon

    It's great to see that the majority of people give this story the weight it deserves........

    NOT MUCH.

    Just another diversion for McNotPresidentialMaterial and his side-kick.

    We are no where close to being as STUPID as the "righties" think we are.....

    Nice try

    GOBAMA/BIDEN!

    November 1, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Brian

    If Obama is elected, he needs to enforce our immigration laws. Does he think his relatives are exempt? How could he not have known about it? Is he going to return her donations? Illegal immigration is devastating the country. Foreigners don't get to decide which laws to follow and which ones to ignore. All the polls show that Americans want immigration laws enforced.

    November 1, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. Monet

    WHO CARES? Barrack in MCCAIN retire

    November 1, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. mike

    1. I think the real story here is that this information was ILLEGALLY leaked to the media.
    2. The timing is clearly suspect.
    3. What happened to leaving families out of it?

    and finally, CNN. It is IRRESPONSIBLE to go national with a news story before the facts are in. Two boos for you.

    November 1, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Barack & Roll

    seriously?? another back hand plot to convince people to vote republican.

    this is not relevant.

    November 1, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. DB25

    Wow, I'm glad I'm not being judged on what MY aunt has done in her life.....

    November 1, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  24. indepdentvoter10

    Keep throwing...nothing sticking.

    November 1, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. Cathy in Vermont

    So now CNN gets their news from FOX?!

    November 1, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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