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. "

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soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. Bill-Chicago

    Great, now let's ruin this womans life. Can't wait for this to be over.

    Go Obama!!

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. SS

    Once again, Barack Obama does not control the actions of others. If his aunt is in the country illegally, then isn't that her own responsibility? If anything, it shows a gap in the policies of the current administration.

    Can we get back to the real issues, please????

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. agyekum

    apart from the red indians who are the american give me a brake.

    November 1, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  4. Jay

    Those that would be affected by news like this already have.

    The GOP attack is still the unwavering GOP attack of the last 30 years, the liberals are going to raise your taxes and give it to welfare mothers that don't work. Not that it is true, but that is their imagery on the campaign trail to get you to dilike the liberal agenda. Joe the Plumber, that is reinforcement. This is reinforcement. This election is about a rejection of those tactics, people looked at the issues and finally figured out that the GOP is full of crap. They need a new attack because those that are voting for Obama are OK with their imagery.

    This news has already been priced into the market, there will be no discernible shift, it is just a reinforcement of a theme that doesn't work anymore.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Country first

    This year election is the nastiest campaign ever in US history. They had tried everything and I tell you it is nasty. These republicans believe that they have not done enough damage to this country and they are trying to scare you. What is that mean now? When they say that his aunt is here illegally. If you an American you an American and I think your background, your religion, and race should not be matter.
    Now that socialism, terrorism do not work they want to bring these nonsense to scare you America. The economy is issue # 1 and they had choose not to talk about and try to scare you with these nonsense. This war need to come to an end because $10 billions dollars a month can do a whole lot here in the US from job creation to education and infrastructure improvement. Our current president is a republican and they had done enough to our economy and job market.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Rose Marie

    Rather than report on the possibility of her illegal status, wait and gather the facts andreport that she is or is not in the country illegally. Of course, it's more of a story to report that she might be breaking the law than to report nothing becasue there is no story. THAT is the irritating part of journalism. The innuendo is so much more interesting (and damaging) than the actual truth.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. arnolde

    I have a feeling McCain doesn't really want illegration and his own stances highlighted, – like the bill he sponsored and then ended up running from in an effort to make himself more attractive to his base? lol

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. SJ

    The lady is a poor old one, but why would I care? Here's why...

    - MY TAX DOLLAR is paying for her housing, ILLEGALLY.
    - Senator Obama's campaign is accepting ILLEGAL contribution, whether they know about it or not.
    - Don't tell me that Senator Obama did not know anything about this lady being here ILLEGALLY. She is close or important enough to him to be mentioned in his book. So what else is he hiding?

    Wake up people. Use your brain.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. a southern bell

    I WOULD BE MOST HONORED TO HAVE AN AUNT ZEITUNI

    IN MY CORNER. IMAGINE GETTING $5 FROM SOMEONE WHO

    DOESN'T HAVE ANOTHER 5 IN HER POCKET.GOD BLESS HER.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. Joe

    Wed. Headlines – McCain Endorses Obama

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. Don

    This is not an issue that has National Consequences. The only consequence might be that the safety and well being of this person has now been jeopardized.

    The national media is not concerned about the personal well being of any citizen if it comes down to a decision regarding ratings.

    This Nation must have a change of direction – Obama is the only candidate that has a vision for a secure and prosperous future.

    Go Vote.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. Angela

    Why is Obama responsible for his entire family, especially for the side that he did not grow up with? My father left my family, and I have family members on his side whom I don't even know or barely know. It's unreasonable to think Obama should be responsible for other people' s conduct.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Peachy Keen

    Well CNN, if you haven't been able to verify it, why write about it? You are getting to sound more and more like a tabloid.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Maryann

    Does this report have ANYTHING to do with this election other than trying to dig up some dirt on Obama? If this is the republican's work in some way shape or form..how low can ppl go to dig up dirt on a candidate?

    So what if she is an illegal immigrant, let the immigration deal with this and move on to the actual CORE of this election, the issues and why either one of them is the best man for the job. I think THAT'S the most important for an yet undecided voter or a first time voter! Not about how much dirt one or both candidates have on them!

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. wiscon

    He should take care of his own family first. No one is responsible for their family members, but they should do whatever it takes to see that they are well cared for and not living in a slum. Obama has two close realitves that are currently living in poor conditions, but he wants to take my hard earned money and create a socialistic society. While he runs around the country his aunt is sitting in a slum and his brother is in a hut. Doesn't addd up. The government only has control with so much, but a family member can change your life.

    November 1, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. Critical Thinking

    Jim – the millions comes from us supporters to SUPPORT his campaign and election as POTUS. I mean – does speaking lies and making baseless points give you guys a high? An endorphine rush? I am really trying to understand this comfort with spewing illogical comments.

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Turquoise

    Another issue Obama's brother was interviewed and SAID HE IS LIVING WELL AND THAT HE IS HELPING OTHER PEOPLE., SOME OF YOU NEED TO FIND SOMETHING CONSTRUCTED TO DO !!
    STOP SITTING AROUND TRYING TO FIND NEGATIVE "STUFF" TO THROW AT OBAMA !! WHAT KIND OF LIFE ARE LIVING ??????
    WHEN BUSH WENT TO WAR WITH IRAG WITHOUT ANYONE'S APPROVAL I DIDN'T SEE OR HEAR ANYBODY COMPLAIN PLUS WHY WAS SADDAM KILLED?? HE DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO US !!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. nick-NY

    CNN while you are at it..how about trying to find out who leaked this supposed story and how.

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  19. Anonymous

    You liberals are hilarious. Invite Obama into the Whitehouse to have an affair with your daughter, lie about it and avoid penetration for the purpose of avoiding the political implications of abortion. Then re-elect him. You did it once, do it again. SICK SICK people!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Lucas Gilmore

    My Grandmother lived in the United States for 16 years before she got her citizenship. She was a concert pianist born in Spain, who couldn't get a resident visa so went to Mexico and crossed into the US through Laredo on a temporary visa to get an eye operation. She never left, dying in Los Angeles at the age of 85.

    She taught musuc lessons for many years, raised five children to be model citizens and finally got hers in 1936.

    Let the poor woman alone. We are allowing thousands of Iraqis to come to our country because we destroyed their's. Why not let her stay?

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. SC

    Who cares? Whether she is here legally or illegally is something out of Obama's control. First of all, Obama, as a senator, cannot stop her from coming. It's like Palin can't stop her unmarried pregnant teenage not to have sex. Only when she is pregnant, then she goes "ta.....da.....mom, I'm pregnant because a few months ago, I had sex with my boyfriend without your consent." Only then Palin goes......"Ah....What?" The same thing is likely to have happened to Obama. He may not even know she is here. And look at the reporting. It never says they talk to each other or email each other. This might not even be true. Hey, AP! If you want to find out illegal immigration and report about it, go find Mexican President Calderon's illegal immigrant relatives living in the US and report about it.

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. tuff Col. Oh

    ANOTHER NON-ISSUE, IS THIS SUPPOSE TO BE THE OCTP-NOV SURRRPRISE, PATHETIC, BLUE IS MY FAVORITE COLOR AND I'M FROM THE GREAT BLUE STATE OF O-H-I-O

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. joe

    What about:

    "We will not include family matters in campaign tactics" !!??

    Shame on you!

    November 1, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Nolyn

    Something about this doesn't seem right to me. So three days before the elections this comes up and nobody on both sides knew about her. As with the woman with the backward B on her face, I will withhold judgement until all the facts are out. Also, from another report that I read, she receives a small stipend for being a health worker, so she isn't living off of taxpayers money; she does work.

    I don't know if any of you realize this, but the McCain's have been living off of taxpayers money for 3 generations now. John McCain has 7 houses, 13 cars, and his wife wears $350,000 worth of clothes (at one event), and yet our taxpaying money still goes to his military retirement and his Senator's salary. That's a lot of wealth being spread to John McCain on behalf of American taxpayers. He's a double dipper and more!

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. True American

    Just another example of how THE GREAT ONE is going to spread the wealth around. Wonder why he doesn't start with his own $$$$$ as an example for the rest of us.

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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