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. Neeraj

    Well...yeah, but Obama is very distant from his father's side of the family, so it's not like he brought her here, I doubt even the Republicans will take a chance and go after this, it would just make them look desperate again.

    November 1, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. red1952

    "Onyango's refusal to leave the country would represent an administrative, non-criminal violation of U.S. immigration law.."Am I supposed to be outraged, dismayed and up-in-arms because a half aunt of Obama's is living here as a non-criminal under U.S. law while 14 million other illegalls are also and we look away. Let's talk instead of why after eight years of the Bush administration, NOTHING was done to curb illegal immigration. No one seems to care about it so I'm sure not going to worry about this issue. And the even bigger question is if Bush himself allowed a Federal matter to be leaked publicly. I mean, if they'll out a CIA agent they'll sure do this. That's more important to me than one woman living here hoping to escape bloodshed in her country. But if people are going to vote against Obama on this issue, well so be it. And good luck to you under a fascist government of McCain/Palin.

    November 1, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. NG in DC

    I'm surprised this has taken so long to surface. It doesn't bother me, but I am sure the GOP and the Clintons knew about this issue a year ago - when immigration issues were hot!

    Give the woman her green card already. Her nephew is about to be president of the country.

    November 1, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. kalliope

    Most of us can relate to this issue, and know that it has nothing to do with Barack Obama. Yet CNN chooses to aid McCain/Palin in throwing everything but the kitchen sink at that the first candidate in decades that offers our country a path out of the mess we find ourselves in. This isn't news, and it's not going to change my life or my neighbors lives. McCain/Palin in the White House will, as we will see our country continue on it's downward spiral. We are too close to the bottom of the spiral to risk this remote possibility. Realizing it is your job to report the news, report the news please... or call yourself a tabloid CNN.

    November 1, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. WALLY

    I WILL BE GLAD WHEN THE ELECTION IS OVER. THIS HAS BEEN THE MOST STUPID ELECTION I HAVE EVER WITNESSED. THE REMARKS THAT HAVE BEEN SAID ON SOME OF THE ISSUES ARE THE STUPIDIST I HAVE EVER READ. WHY BRING UP OBAMA'S AUNT, WHY KEEP BRINGING UP PALINS MEDICAL RECORDS WHEN OBAMA HAS NOT RELAESED HIS. THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT MEDICAID GOING BROKE, WHY COULDN'T OBAMA AND MCAIN DONATED THE $300,000,000.00 THEY WASTED ON CAMPAIGING AND PUT IT IN THE FUND, PROBLEM SOLVED. I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE PRESIDENT IF IT PAID A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. I THOUGHT THAT AMERICA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A EDUCATED PLACE BUT BY SOME OF THE REMARKS I HAVE READ IT MUST ME SOME FIRST GRADERS WRITING THE COMMENTS.

    November 1, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. namewithheld

    People are really desperate for scandal; this woman is his "half aunt". People have made remarks about him being well off while she lives in public housing; he is not responsible for or obligaetd to her from any financial standpoint.

    Regarding her immigration status; she is just one of many tens of millions who defy immigration.

    I am hopeful that he will be elected, but I am also a very realistic person in that while we liive in a very desensitized society and are tolderant of most anything these days; I believe when people go to the polls Tuesday we will see that soceity is still very racist.

    November 1, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. McCain is too old

    CNN shows their true colors: RED

    WHO CARES????

    Where is the story on Ron Reagan Jr. endorsement of Barack and , oh yes, Reagan's chief of Staff?

    Where is the story on Palin's second investigation into unethical behavior?

    Where is this comment as you will probably never post it?

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. JT

    she has been in breaking the law of this country for 4 years and obama knew it all along, o has anyone seen or heard beltway biden, another poor decision by obama. he has to hide his vp pick from the public.

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Brent

    Am I suppose to believe that Obama didn't know his Aunt was living in this country illegally? Have we all gone insane??

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Pat

    As I understand the situation, his half-Aunt came to the US legally on a visa and then applied for political asylum due to the upheavel and persecution of the Luo tribe in Kenya. This persecution has been well documented. ICE is very strict in these matters and denied her application. The denial of legitimate asylum requests by this administration is also well-documentd. Under the law, a person may appeal the decision denying asylum and remain here during its pendency. apparently that is what has hapened here. I thought it was interesting that there are ten million foreign nationals in this position residing in the United States. That seems high to me. I do note that these appelants have to be law abiding while here otherwise they get shipped out for that reason.

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. zenter

    who cares

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. adrian

    how the hell is this news cnn??? who cares?? is this your lame attempt to smear obama? how about reporting sarah and todd palins ties to the alaskan idependence party?? why is that not news worthy? how about reporting that sarah palin has yet another ethics complaint filed against her for charging alaska to fly her kids all over the state?? how about reporting mccains ties to gordon liddy?? what happened to no bias no bull?? i know what it is. youre one of the major corporations that stands to get a huge tax break if mccain is elected, therefore youre doing everythig you can to help mccain. shame on you.

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Molly

    So CNN we are to believe that just now...three days before the election you found out about this? Please, it looks like something you and FOX news have been sitting on for some time.

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Peter Musoke

    This story is really hopeless and irrelevant.

    This is my first response to your stories despite being a regular reader.

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. Joan

    Read "Make Believe Maverick" Rolling Stone Magazine (online). Someone asked why McCain's military record is sealed. Well, if you read the article (which is a bit long–10 pages–but very informative. And then you'll see why his record is sealed. (How many American planes has he crashed? He's cost the taxpayers a BOATLOAD of money.)

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. leon Ma.

    This just another pathetic attack on Obama, all this is showing is that this country and racisim countuies to live. the people that countiue to push this way of thinking are the true socialist. and will ruin this country.
    McCain can stop this but he wont becaues it's the only way he can get in the white houes.

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. Kraye

    OBAMA IS SCUM AND A LIAR.

    VOTE MCCAIN-PALIN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I LOVE JOHN MCCAIN & SARAH PALIN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Speak the truth GOP!!

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. dan

    wow % and $25 dollar contributions that has to be at least $50 if not more. she will never be abel to influence him over all the tabaco, food and oil money he will eventually receive.

    November 1, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Ken

    Another reason why I won't be watching CNN on November 4.

    November 1, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Liz from TX

    I think the issue of Obama's aunt living in public housing is absolutely relevant and I am so glad that CNN is reporting the allegations. I am a Democrat but I am becoming increasingly concerned by some of the hypocrisy within the Obama-Biden camp.

    November 1, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. ethan

    why would you guys even waste your time and bandwidth posting this garbage? i come here to see developing stories pertaining to the election, and i get a rude, rash, and unreliable "story" about a relation of obama's who MIGHT MAYBE be illegal? who cares! it's not obama and more than that, it's not proven. that'd be like posting an article called "mccain's nephew may be a pothead." seriously guys, come on!

    November 1, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. Fausto

    Unfit to be President......this country will suffer greatly under an Obama presidency.

    Any business struggling should NOT raise the cost of doing business....America's business is struggling.

    Obama is going to carry out the agenda of his mentors...Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, Khalidi, Acorn......the list goes on and on. WAKE UP you Sheep.

    The first to suffer will be my 7 employees.

    McCain / Palin 2008

    November 1, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  23. Chipster

    Interesting piece of useless information. Now, back to the economic, International, health care, educational, energy, division, and other crises that face our country today.

    November 1, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. McCain puts America First

    The problem is...Obama claims (in his own memoir and speeches) that he is his brother's keeper. His brother is living in a hut outside Nairobi and now we find his "Auntie" is living in a slum in Boston. Come on folks...he doesn't even take of his own kin, do you REALLY believe he is going to take care of you?

    November 1, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. Shannon

    Who cares? Really? The only people that will care are already voting for McCain.

    November 1, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58