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. ann

    and your point is?

    November 1, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Anonymous

    If CNN doesnt agree with a comment, they don't post it...HHHMMMMM

    November 1, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Margo

    I suppose CNN will leave this story as their first feature all day. Yawn.

    November 1, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Peachy Keen

    CNN, how come you aren't digging up the records about John McCain's 1964 auto accicent on a Navy base in Virginia in which he killed someone. Vanity Fair has been trying to get these and the Navy refuses to release them.

    That seems more importantt than this unverified dribble.

    November 1, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Random Dude

    Wow, CNN you really try to pull down Obama at all costs. What next ?
    some member of his family living in Kenya is a witch doctor ?

    November 1, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Women with sense

    This is a pathetic excuse for a story and beneath reporting. He met her in Kenya, has he interacted with her here? I have an aunt that lives in the same city as me that I have not seen in 2 years. I love her, but have no clue what she is doing because of the pace of my life. Let's see...what could Obama have been doing the past year that would keep him from managing every distant relative he has met...Oh, running for President you say?

    SERIOUSLY?

    November 1, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. popeye

    What does this have to do with anything?

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Dr. Mimi De La Cruz

    I REMEMBER THE DAY WHEN NEWS ORGANIZATIONS

    INVESTIGATED & REPORTED THING LIKE THE NATIONAL

    & INTERNATIONAL ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE BUSH

    ADMINISTRATIONS. BUT NO. GOD FORBID. YOU SHED

    LIGHT ON THE MISERIES OF A POOR OLD HONORABLE LADY !!!

    GOD BLESS HER FOR ATTEMPTING HELP ALL OF US.

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. sheila

    what more will we report about? is she calling 911 and swearing at operators???????

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. NC Mom

    Irrelevant.

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Kim

    Why don't we just put ALL illegal immigrants in public housing, public schools, and give them all free healthcare, and let just the Democrats pay for them???? Since they are the ones who want a socialist society.. let them foot the bill... OH WAIT!!!! It's the Republicans who actually make the money in the US, and Create Jobs... HMMMMMM

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. mike

    Her asylum was rejected, but it does not mean her status in U.S. is illegal. She might be in appeal process. At least unlike other news sources that put a definitive "illegal" on their headline, CNN is nice enough to put "may" in its title.

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. Dan from Philly

    Didn't you know? Obama is responsible for every action and thought of every person he ever met?

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. BJ in NC

    And...your point is? I guess the McCain campaign will try to make him responsible for her individual decision. Is this supposed to be another October surprise? How many other people are in this country illegally? Report on something worthwhile. Why is it on the Political Ticker? Come on CNN you can do better than this.

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Lisa

    I am sure there is a search right now for all the children Obama went to school with. Maybe one of them will have a story about how he would not share a toy or that peanut butter sandwich. Moving ON!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Cartwright

    Obama does not even help out his own family members with his own wealth. But he will gladly take YOUR money and, like he said, spread the wealth around all over the world. He spent $800,000 on a German lighting company when he was campaigning in Germany. That's spreading your wealth around.

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. jim Southern OR

    No wonder Barry wants to give legal status to all the illegal's. Half of them are probably relatives!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Ulrike

    So WHAT?
    Of course this will gleefully be dissected by the far right and by racists.
    But who wants THEM to decide over war and peace and the economy?
    Did the GOP dig this up? You betcha.
    Always pandering to the lowest instincts.
    Please don´t get distracted by ANYTHING at all they will say about Senator Obama in the next couple of days.They´re going to lie their heads off if need be.
    You should all worry about the 8 Bush years and not about such minor incidents.

    November 1, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. Ruth

    Desperate Republicans again. I'll be so glad to see them go down in smoke next Tuesday. If I'm not mistaken McCain wants to legalize all illegial Mexicans.

    November 1, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. ONE

    This is not meant to be, in any form, an insult to Sen. Obama or anyone else that is of mixed heritage or ethnicity. But the correct term is MULATO (of latin origin, basically meaning,mixed). Therefore in my opinion he represents both races, BLACK and WHITE, equally. He represents the best of both worlds. He's professional, young, vibrant, educated and articulate. He's the BEACON of CHANGE that is so desperately needed in this DARK world in which we currently reside.

    November 1, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. retiredzoomie

    I know how exactly how information like this is obtained. The culprit can easily be found through a simple database search.

    Releasing information like this is proof that the responsible did this purely for political purposes, and should be exposed and fired from their job.

    November 1, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  22. colleen

    hmmm.. Obama's aunt wants to STAY in the country, Palin's husband wanted to secede from it.. I prefer the former attitude

    November 1, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. My Friends, let me tell you,

    23% of the hillbillies in Texas think hes a muslim.Whats that tell you about their school system?The stupid should not be allowed to vote and the ignorant should be in training camps.

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. Juan Grain

    i saw a cat cross the border with half of a PBL sandwich, why arent you guys talking about that illigal socialist spread the wealth critter. Whay arent you sending Lou Dubbs out there with a trap and a snadwich retriever system???

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. Trina

    Just curious as to why this story is of importance. Are you supposed to be responsible for everything every member of your family does. CNN you have to get better.

    Comment for Jorge; Do you help every relative that you don't know about? How is he supposed to know everybody that he is related to. Some of you guys on here need to get real, this has nothing to do with the election.

    Will be so glad when Wednesday gets here so this will be over with, it is getting to be a tad bit much.

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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