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. "

Full story

soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. kim

    Hmm...let's see if the powers that be will investigate dear old auntie as much as they did Joe the Plumber. If I had to make a bet, I'll bet they won't.

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. Puffin

    Oh, for heaves sake what else are you going to report? Come to Florida, where the cities are building shelters for illegal workers. You do not even know if she is here illegally or, if someone sponsored her. What a piece of crap of journalistic reporting. Now, the media is going to hunt this poor woman too?

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. Andy

    What, is this McCain's "October Surprise?"

    Leave her alone, CNN. Dragging everyone Obama has ever met through the mud is irresponsible journalism. I already think Khalidi is well-positioned to sue the McCain campaign for defamation after this whole thing is over.

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. Christine CT

    this is news? is the Saturday before the campaign a slow news day?
    Where's the tidbit about Joe the fake plumber living in Alaska for 4 years??

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. David

    Just how stupid do you think the Obama voters are. McCain would give away his own mother to win this election. Watch out old woman. This man with the Bush smirk makes me want to hurl!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. ATG

    I am amazed by the criticism Obama gets for things which are not in his control. I have so much respect for the man coz he pulled himself out of a mess and made him what he is today ...a brilliant and inspiring leader !!

    November 1, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. Illinois 2

    This is just something that Sen. Obama has failed to mention in all his hours on the campaign trail. Sure we KNOW EVERYTHING about him, don't we!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. M.A.

    This is Obama's father's half sister who he met back in 1988 for the first time. What's the story here CNN?

    November 1, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  9. Independant for Obama

    Mcain and Palin's VIEWS are ALIEN ! ! !

    November 1, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  10. LG in Atl

    and did you see the other article where she has said she cannot talk to the media until after Nov 4? One more example of the Obama campain trying to control and hide the truth so the American people wont have the real information in order to make an objective decision. What has happened to the Democratic Party.....have they no shame?

    November 1, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. Sarah, Missoula MT

    wait... so we're supposed to care about the half-sister of the father who Obama only met once?

    I don't think so.

    Also, if i hear one more thing about Obama not being born in the US, I will scream. He produced his birth certificate, and it was declared valid by a number of sources. The lawsuit against it was a laughing stock. Let's move on the the real issues and away from this XENOPHOBIA.

    November 1, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. Frank G

    So "somebody" is stirring up something meaningless, just as the news recently about McCains' s brother.
    At times, it seems as if the media has lost its bearings in its coverage
    of the campaigns and the real issues.
    Let's take both stories:
    Could MaCain have stopped his brother from making the 911 call?
    Did Obama know and ocould stop this women from living here?
    As we have seen from other stories, including relatives in Kenya, he has not been close to those of his father who abandoned his mother.
    And how is McCain suppose to control other family members behavior?

    November 1, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Monet

    When are we going to focus on the issues and stop the personal attacks? What does this has to do with Senator Obama's ability to be the next President of the United States of America. Senator Obama is not responcible for the behavior and actions of his family, friends, relatives, and anyone else that he comes in contact with.Stop the non sense! Lets bring this country together united in the Uninted States.

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  14. rick

    I COULD NOT BELIEVE WHEN I WENT TO HILLBUZZ AND SO THE GOP INTERNAL POLLS.
    MCCAIN AHEAD IN MICHIGAN NEW JERSY PA AND DOWN 1 IN CALIFORNIA
    I AM BEGINNING TO BELIEVE THAT MOST OF THE MSM ARE GOING TO TO LOOK FOOLISH

    ESPECIALLY MSNBC

    HEY CNN YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO CHANGE THAT ELECTORAL MAP

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  15. Marge

    They should let the woman file to become a citizen. Or will obama file to be a citizen, since he isn't one. They could both be deported together.

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. Michael in NC

    McCain's not crazy enough to touch this. If he goes off on Obama for his aunt, he's gonna piss off a lot of Hispanic voters, who know how difficult it can be to become a citizen. And Hispanic voters are already going for Obama like 2 to 1.

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. jack

    Don't you think that if Obama was not a citizen at this late stage of the game, someone would have brought it up...Get over it people...Enough w/ the bigots...Move on and accept the fact that a bi-racial person will become President.

    Do you all really think that all people must LOOK and think like everyone else?! So what?

    Move on -

    An Obama Administration will be wonderful, a fitting end to the disaster of the last eight years!!!How many Amercians are actually thinking that they woild have love a Gore Admin instead of the unmitigated disaster of the past 8 years...The best part of it was Laura Bush!!! The woman is a saint to have put up w/ BS from Bush...We are praying for you Laura...

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  18. MONIQUE

    CNN spends all of it time using MCCAIN?PALIN speaking notes instead of doing thier jobs which is reporting the facts – THIS NETWORK IS IN THE TANK FOR CNN SO I AM GLAD THAT NOW THE CBC IN CANDA HAS ANNOUNCED IT WILL SHOW THE ELECTION RESULTS SO AT LEAST I DO NOT NEED TO LISTEN TO THE RACIST WHO HIDE BEHIND THEIR JOURNALISM TITLE –

    THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA- THE MEDIA IS ALL BIAS AND ALL BULL

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. Amy, Kazoo

    John- Obama was born in Hawaii. You're aware of Hawaii and its inclusion in the USA, right? You're also aware that McCain was born in the Canal zone in Panama. they're BOTH legal citizens of the United States. So perhaps it's about time this nonsense is retired from the dialogue. Get your facts straight.

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. blaising

    Why McCain is creepily reminiscent of Hitler…

    * dominating
    * opposes equality
    * desirous of personal power
    * amoral
    * intimidating and bullying
    * faintly hedonistic
    * vengeful
    * pitiless
    * exploitive
    * manipulative
    * dishonest
    * cheats to win
    * highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, homophobic)
    * mean-spirited
    * militant
    * nationalistic
    * tells others what they want to hear
    * takes advantage of "suckers"
    * specializes in creating false images to sell self
    * may or may not be religious
    * usually politically and economically conservative

    November 1, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  21. Christine CT

    oooohhhhh...Lou Dobbs(aka Independent Rush Limbaugh) must love this one. He'll be happy for weeks!

    November 1, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  22. mel from ohio

    For those of you who question the legality of these donations, it is my understanding that the donations were returned. Now, go find something else to whine about!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  23. Rob71

    Robert71-This I guess is news story, but I am some what amazed that the Federal Law Enforcement Official who provided this information from Obama's files is violating federal law by violating the Privacy Act of 1974, which punishable by stint in federal prison and heavy fine. Now thats news and I hope that the DHS Inspector General will start a prompt investigation, starting with officials who had her files last. Now thats a smoking gun and I hope Fox News, AP, CNN and MSNB will place it in there web page and that goes for the rest of the media as well. Obama's Aunt is in violation of being here illegaly, her violation is not criminal in nature and if media can find her than the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement could also find her and execute a deportation order is one such order exists. If your going to leak information than leak the hole file so people can no the complete story and not just senational bit of information for a story line. As a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, I am appalled by the this individuals behavior and I hope justice will find him and act swiftly. She went through the immigration process and was not successful, so the system should have ensured her return to her country of origin. The question is who in the Bush administration new what and when or is it one the many forgotten cases?

    November 1, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. Texas Trail Dog!

    This is what you got to deal with with OBAMA. The man knows his Aunt has been here all along. It's just another of his OH so many lies. Anyone believing in this man and voting for him need to see a DOCTOR and right away. His turning his head on something this against immigration laws tells you what he will do once he is in Office.

    November 1, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  25. Susan

    I planned to vote for Obama, but now I am unsure. He had to know shw was here illegally. That does say something about him, that I am now concerned about. He was 'hiding' the fact that he has an aunt here illegally. Not good.

    Wish Hillary was in the running.

    November 1, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
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