November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
8 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. "

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soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. Jenkis

    John McCain has not stratagy to win this election!!!

    He calles names and insinuates some detastable things. He is not coordinated!!
    A week ago, Obama was a "socialist"
    Last week he was a "communist"
    This week a "Terrorist"
    This Joke with Joe The Plumber doesn't seem to be aimed at well meaning Americans. (Only John's people will seem to understand that blindly)
    Mark My Word, as early as tuesday next week John McCain will call "President Elect Obama" on Phone and
    congratulate him. You don't put your stakes so low if you are runing for president in this nation like John McCain has done. Risking the carieers of many well meaning Dem and Rep politicians that this nation needs.

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. civilguy

    Ha chip,

    If you knew anything about US law and a little about history of McCain then you would know that his father was in the service when John was born in Panama and according to US law this make him a US nationalized citizen! This is 2nd grade stuff Chip! Then again most Democrats skipped the 2nd grade didn't you!
    If what is claimed about Obama is true (not saying it is) and the fact that his parents were not in the service then whatever country it was while he was born would be in nationality and he would not be a US citizen by US law!

    McCain wasn't born in the US either. He was born in the Panama Canal and Panama is not a state. Lets investigate this more. Is his adapted daughter a citizen? We can go on and on with this bull. We don't give two cent about the two men running distance relatives. We are just looking at the two of them being able to run this country to the best of their knowledge.

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. Kayla

    Who cares? What does this have to do about the economy? If the Republicans are going to bring up junk, let McCain's first wife talk about how he abandoned her for beatiful, rich Cindy.

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Scott Alexander

    Good. If she is in the U.S. "illegally", as the right-wingers like to phrase it because it sounds harsher and more facist than "without proper documentation", then that's good. Obama isn't like the fear-mongering Republican candidates he's running against. Immigration has been a part of this country for centuries. I don't have anything against immigration because I'm not a bigot and I also don't care about the whole tax thing. There's millions of Americans who were born in this country who don't pay taxes when they should (especially the rich who can always find loopholes), so what right do I have as a good person to scrutinize immigrants when our own natural citizens can't even do their part?

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. we need something new- from OH

    this just means that he understands the problems americans are facing when the U.S. orders people to round up their relatives and send them back to where they came from.
    Obama understands the people!

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Tylenol 666

    She is more american than any one in my view, any person that came from a far place let alone an older female is struggling more than you would ever imagine

    this TAX Payers stuff needs to stop,, we all paid for a war that we never wanted,, forgot that already?

    Obama / Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Tom

    How can Sen. Obama say that he is " his brothers keeper, his sisters keeper" when he doesn't keep his own family? His words and actions are contrary to each other.

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Ben


    Thanks for raising the issue of illegal aliens. Clearly this woman is a major contributor to the economic crisis and her deportation will solve the budget deficit.

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. rose

    Remind me how this is relevant? There are many illegal people who live in this country quietly. Is this the best the GOP can come up with as an October surprise!!

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Kraye

    Obama had EVERYTHING to do with this.
    Wake up people! He will not make the United States better.
    The U.S. will be worse than ever in our history if NObama is elected.

    I voted for Hillary in the primary, but didn't think twice about voting for John McCain & Sarah Palin in the General Election.

    NObama stole the primary from Hillary and the Clinton's know it.

    McCain-Palin 2008 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. JRS

    Pro-Obamas jusitify every single thing and agree with every one of his whacky ideas, such as cutting taxes on people who don't pay taxes. You protest illegal immigration constantly, but this is suddenly ok. If it was Mc or Palin with something like this, you'd be all over them. I'm disappointed, first we pick Bush, now ultra-left Obama whose record included voting chicken present 129 times; though we finally had a chance at someone in the middle.

    November 1, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. Nannie Bouroughs

    So is Barack Oblama... and what are we going to do about that?

    Make him PRESIDENT!

    Hey, that's AMERICA!

    November 1, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Tom

    If Senator Obama can't take care of his own family, how can he take care of the rest of us?

    November 1, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. johnrj08

    Boy, somebody in Rove's outfit is going to get a big Christmas bonus for digging this one up.

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

    so what. look at all the mexican's who arent supposd to be here. i thought fix news was bad, but cnn and racist lou dobbs are worst. independent my butt lou. you and cnn suck.

    November 1, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. cohen

    ill never vote republican ever again. cnn you lost a viewer while drifting to the right. with shows like lou dobbs and beck youll end up like fox

    November 1, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. RACHEL

    Well, here it is. The elusive "October surprise" has been finally found. I don't know what the possibility that Obama's aunt might be here illegally has anything to do with important issues, like, I don't know, the crappy economy that has so many people losing jobs and homes and health insurance? You know, things that directly affect people?

    November 1, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. The Truth

    Well well when we come about the truth whom have right to lived and to vote for American, we can said its only Red Indian that what the history say.. so remain peoples who are live in American are illegal, so have you got right to vote ifn is yes Obama and Mccain have right to be president of USA for getb about Obama family . We c vote for someone can standing for peoples not bla bla bla bla ...
    see u next time

    November 1, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. Kathy

    Obama is probably not a legal citizen either. Send her packing!

    November 1, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. TheConstitution

    The Constitution
    People ask why this issue matters. One reason
    “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States” taken from the oath of office that all Senators must take before taking office. If he doesn’t take this oath seriously how can you elect him to be President?
    No one is above the Constitution!
    And if you Obama supporters out there want to post, please know how to spell and or at know the meaning of the words you use.

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. mashawnda

    After this as a ticker, I will not be coming to or watching cnn for my news. Thanks

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. jack

    Just like obama a illegal alien. She is living in public housing paid for with tax payer dollars.
    Deport now!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. Al Mellen

    *Obama's aunt probably should be locked-up,,,,,,,,just like Martha Stewart was. Both of them are terrorists. M. Stewart will probably kill a lot of us with her cooking,,,,,,,Obama's aunt probably will shoot the rest of us,,,,,just like D. Cheney did with his hunting partner. This political race has been good for the comedians. The McCain camp has cleaned out my septic tank,,,,,,,,how many more crappers are going to be cleaned before the race is over??

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. Carol

    I sure hope McCain and the GOP feel all big and important now. This attack doesn't make Obama look bad, as you had intended. What we see is a woman just trying to do the best she can. I have no idea Mr. McCain, how you can possibly face yourself in the mirror every single day. Do you really think anyone but your die hard followers believe that if Mr. Obama knew she was here, he wouldn't have tried to help her? Give us a break! In one short year you went from a respected man to one that I can only pity.

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. Already Voted For MR O


    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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