November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
5 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. Oliver

    and what has this got to do with Obama.....all it is fuel for rednecks

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. rm

    Okay, Obama has been respectful and quite direct and insisted that "families are off limits". He has respected ALL family members of other candidates in this election. No one on this blog can deny that. McCain and the media need to be careful when talking about Obama's family. This could be the straw that makes him mad. McCain/Palin should be proceed with caution. He has lots of skeleton's on them he has chosen to keep in case of an emergency. He is very, very smart.

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. thomas

    If only we could enact laws where humanity was our guiding force instead of punishment. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are what makes America great.

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. inuk of the north

    If a guy can't look after his own people, he can't look after a country!

    I guess the 'community organizer' forgot about his auntie living in total poverty.

    He talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk.

    It's about time America woke up and said the ability to give a good speech is not enough to lead the USA!

    Barack = empty, vacuuous, do-nothing, professional politician.

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Te

    Stop Rove, Palin, Tom Delay from destroying Social Security !!

    Hopefully, McCain,73, will retire now.

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Krystof

    It has nothing to do with Obama. You should be ashamed of yourself !

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Bospride

    Cnn is reporting the news, which is what they are supposed to do. Why the comments about the report? It's news and should be reported with NO spin by them or any of the news outlets.

    November 1, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Robert

    Not surprising the lefties would circle the wagons on this one. She ain't an illegal alien defying a court ordered deportation for four years and living in public housing at taxpayers cost – she's just like everyone's aunt. To paraphrase a famous American president – One has to define what illegal is – is.

    November 1, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. George

    So what.

    Obama is an alien, too??

    It doesn't matter, both candidates are going to usher in a fascist government.

    How free are we if we can't even tie in the name of Rockefeller/pals, and the election.

    Good luck.
    Wipe out PNAC.

    November 1, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. dekker from europe

    CNN this is really sad, not knowing the real facts why she is still there and then you just could'nt wait to break the news, I thought that that's what good journalism is all about: FACTS!
    You have shown you're true colors!

    November 1, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. Melissa

    Ok, she's the sibling of a Kenyan father he hasn't seen since he was ten. It's her responsibility to follow the laws regarding her own immigration status; Barack isn't her keeper. I'd say the same if it was McCain's aunt.

    November 1, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. Tracey

    It's illegal for "Mr. Country First, Mr. Maverickee, to not wear his flagpin, after going after Obama for not wearing his. I haven't seen McCain wear his flagpin, even during the debates. Mr. I have soooo much love for this country, isn't showing it by wearing his flagpin? Now that's criminal and illegal for a Maverick to do! One who advocates "COUNTRY" -Right! Don't be bamboozled people!

    November 1, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. conservative

    How many other illegals are contributing to Obama's campaign?

    November 1, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Ricardo

    To all you all the haters out there – READ the article – her immigrant status has NOT BEEN CONFIRMED! My God, its just a frenzy with some people at any little crumb of controversy. And even if it did come out that she is living here illegally, do you really think that's within Barak's control? Get a grip people. And as far as campaign contributions – the Obama Campaign has been very clear with donors of all the requirements – all donors are required to check a check box that they meet all of the requirements – Legally, they have done everything within their power. Nice try. Go crazy over nothing, while a majority of us are concerned about real issues.

    November 1, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. Youtubby

    Oh crap, McCain just lost the Hispanic votes with this story....illegal immigration is a topic MCain was hoping would not come up till after tuesday...lest see how they dance around this one.

    November 1, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Rob in Sacramento

    stephen in kentucky you are an idiot! if obama wasnt a citizen the secs of state in places like mississippi, idaho or kentucky would have been on that quickly. you are wholly stupid or wholly racist, im guessing both...

    November 1, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. T. Rothchild

    McCain / Palin = Fascism and McCarthyism. (You are judged by the
    company you keep, spy on your neighbors , you are unAmerican and un-patriotic if you don't do what we say, be afraid, be very afraid while we take you to the cleaners, etc.)

    Democrats = Freedom and individual rights and liberty.
    Free yourselves.

    Democrats 08.

    November 1, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. benjamin

    either way in a few days, this is issue will be ..what to do about PRESIDENT obama;s aunt....

    that is all

    November 1, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Suspicious

    The real story, though, is down in the third paragraph of the AP story ...

    Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one of them a federal law enforcement official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release

    Note too that the story first got leaked to the Times of London, a Murdoch paper with a history of taking planted stories from Republicans for siphoning back into the US media.

    November 1, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. larrybud

    This is NEWS because it's NEW.

    The question that needs to be asked is that did Barack KNOW that his Aunt is breaking federal law. Whether or not you like the law is irrelevant. It IS federal law.

    November 1, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. McSlime

    How about reports on the planes McCain crashed with the Navy?

    November 1, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Greg

    October Surprise? This smells like Karl Rove.

    Oh well time to throw a McCain/Palin member under the bus.

    How about Tod Palin? He's hates America so much he wants Alaska to break away from the US.

    There you go...send one of ours to the hospital, we send one of your to the morgue. That's the Chicago way.

    (Oh yes, where are those Palin medical records?)

    November 1, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  23. Tara

    The last desperate act by the Republicans! They should be ashamed of themselves!

    November 1, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Obama saw his father only one time. This is his father's sister. Doubt they even know each other.

    Get a life you racist ignoramuses. I will not EVER vote for McCain the warmonger. Hot-tempered, married to a drug-stealing, drug-addicted woman, running with a woman who abuses power, is unethical and is married to an AIP-loving, strong-arming power hungry idiot.

    November 1, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Just some guy

    Who cares????!!???

    November 1, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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