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. heidi

    This issue is relevant because it leads to the question of what position a president Obama is likely to take on providing taxpayer services to the millions of illegal squatters residing in the U.S. How many of these people are already receiving free housing, medical care and education in this country? I grieve for those trying to create better lives for themselves and their children but if we cease to be a nation of laws we'll surely and eventually lose our Republic.

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Angel

    This instance just adds another reason to my list why I am supporting John McCain for president . So many things have come out about people that are very close to Obama. We're talking Aunt, preacher of many years, close political advisors. I do not like either one of the candidates 100%. I have disagreed with McCain many times over the years, and when he got the nomination I had to grumble about it. But looking at these two men, I have decided that since neither one is perfect, here is my decision. I believe that the 5 1/2 years John McCain gave us in that horrible prison gives me one heck of a reason to let him have four years as president to defend us and serve us honorably. This man is a hero and he deserves this. All Obama has accomplished is that he is "running for president". He has been running for prez almost as long as he has been in office. Let him earn this by staying a Senator for a few more years and let us see what he can accomplish before handing him this honor because he's "pretty"

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. An Old Hat

    If you were old enough to remember Hitler You would see the
    same thing happening. Don't think the messiah will ask how you voted.
    What about Christian rights? What about murdering our babies. What about honesty, and on and on it goes.
    Sorry to disappoint you but you haven't seen nothing yet. And it is none good.

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. G. Dean

    How did I somehow suspected that "they" (GOP) would come up with another stupid report the last weekend of the election. What does this have to do with Obama. If my aunt was here illegally, it would have nothing to do with me. These guys need to fess up to the fact that whatever they say, it will not take away Barack's integrity, intelligence, and love for his country/

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. VS

    Thank you CNN!

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. carepi,nj

    does that mean that Obama is pro ilegal inmigration? or does it mean that Obama's aunt is a muslim, or better yet that Obama supports Muslim ilegal inmigration? you guys in the Right are a joke!. ]

    Family members off limits, right?

    let's investigate Cindy's half sister who did not get any $$, yet Cindy McCain inherit over $100 milion.... bad luck i guess right? so suck on that!

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Lourdes

    Another non-issue dug up by a desperate McCain campaign trying to move the last 72 hours in their direction. Is this is the worst they can dig up, Obama has nothing to worry about.

    November 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Mecury

    so well formulated...
    John McCain has no stratagy to win this election!!!
    He calles names and insinuates some detastable things.
    He is not coordinated!!
    some weeks 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 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. SMB

    Seriously, could you at least get the facts before you report blasphamous reports? This is not even proven! Stop trying to discredit Obama so McCan't can come in and ruin our country for another eight years.

    November 1, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. nd

    check your root at one time every one beside the native indian are all illegal immigrants, this people are here for pure reason of survival and independence, what we all stands for.
    but this monster proclaiming he is pro life that want to take your love ones send them to war, he lobby to extend war in iraq untill complete victory is achieve? that could take decades havent we learn about the vietnam war, how many lives? he does not care the cost of human lives his incessant and hunger for war is insurmountable. for humanity stop this monster if anybody can he will be the one to lead us to nuclear holocaust. stop this beast. reject him out of your life.

    November 1, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Tony

    and McCain left his first wife (who is in a wheelchair) for Cindy...

    November 1, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. Susan

    What a big surprise- another last minute distraction from a focus on the issues- what next- oh, I know, maybe some cousin knows someone who knows someone who knows someone from a terrorist country. Yeah, that's it. Oooo, should we all be scared? Let's ask the mudslinger in chief, John McCain

    November 1, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. Charlie Bradley

    LMM...its got nothing to do with laws allowing Obama to be a citizen. He was born in Hawaii in 1961 almost a full two years after Hawaii became the last state admitted to the union. McCain, on the other hand, was born on Foreign soil. I don't care if it was during the time his mother was staying with his father during a military event or not, he was still born on foreign soil. That alone should be enough to fully disqualify him.

    November 1, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Don

    One more comment_ I have made several $25.00 contribution to Obama's Campaign and I am not a relative – near or distant. I am just a 67 year old retired white factory worker that want to see this country move in a different direction. ..

    Go Vote

    November 1, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. McCain/Palin 2008

    Of course we should care about this. First of all, if she is here illegally, her campaign contributions are not legal. Second, Obama claims that we have to take care of our brothers and sisters...obviously this is (shocker) empty rhetoric if he can't even "spread the (his) wealth" with his aunt who is in need right now. Obama is a liar.

    November 1, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. LaShawn Jackson

    Nice to see the Obama Trolls trying to make this look unimportant. I used to work for the Obama campaign as one of these guys snooping out stories against Obama and trying to either justifying them or make them look unimportant. With only 3 days until election, my job was done... Now I am done with him...

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Joe

    On top of that she contributed $250 to the Obama campaign....I would think he would have to return those funds since she is not an American citizen!!

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Brian

    I haven't seen my aunt in years and I'm pretty sure she sells crystal meth and commits crimes all the time. I hope I'm not held responsible for her actions.

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. George

    You're momma is an alien.....

    Unless you're "Native American," all you folks are racists when you talk about who's an American.

    Rewrite schoolbooks and kill PNAC Satanists.

    Good luck on election day, It's all rigged, starting
    with David Rockefeller.

    Peace out.

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. mn

    And so? What does this show us?
    The Bush administration has failed at fixing illegal immigration?
    If the government has been allowing this woman to live in pubic housing what does this tell you?
    This is a non story, just like the McCain brother calling 911 to ask about a traffic jam was a non story.
    I am sick of the MSM treating all of us like idiots.
    The only people who will care about this story are the 25% who are ignorant enough to still believe Obama is a Muslim.

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Houstonian

    I wish I knew this before I voted for Obama. Gimme a break!!

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  22. dekker from europe

    CNN has taken the low road, that;s sad, maybe she still busy with a lawyer or whatever, but you guys just couldn't wait to break yhe news! Journalism of it;s worst kind....

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. McCain is NOT a maverick

    All of you McCain supporters are going to be so sorry when we enter WW3, our military shrinks b/c we are stuck in Iraq for 100 years, and the whole country tanks b/c of Republican leadership in the last 8 years. McCain doesn't have a clue how to turn things around, he just wants more of the same. He is pathetic!

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Kim

    *yawn* The GOP is really digging deep now. Why is it that these "stories" only surface a few days before the election?

    Doesn't change my mind.

    Obama '08

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. paul oregon

    cnn why wasnt this verified before you printed this artical ? does itr matter no. are we like the gop have to do alittle fear mongering??????????? before the election? wonder what this does to cnn ratings ? is cnn like all the other tabiolds? so much for honesty!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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