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. McSameMcCain on myspace

    I had a dream last night where I dreamed that CNN stood for "communist news network". Luckily before I start spewing that as the truth, I would confirm it. Unlike CNN who runs with rumors of unimportant things.

    November 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. R in Maine

    Typical. You publish this statement with big headlines but no confirmation. Stating that you called "someone" but did not get confirmation is not evidence. CNN is becoming as sleazy as Limbaugh and his boys, and as desperate as the GOP. CNN is not a news organization, and has no ethical foundation.

    November 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. Safari

    All Kenya will vote for Obama. He is a great son of the soil of Africa.

    November 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. So??

    And Bill Clinton had a brother in jail. So what?

    November 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. When shall you stop this deception!

    Why are Sen. McCain and his team using Joe the Plumber (a Fraud) to insinuate that "Obama's Presidency will mean the death of Israel"? That "real Americans vote for McCain" ??? Phonies
    – Why has Sen. McCain not allowed Sarah Palin as promised alone to do interview with LKL, if she is qualified to be a VP of USA?
    – Why is Sarah Palin’s windfall tax distribution to Alaskans not wealth distribution and “socialism”?
    – Why are those checks from Bush Administration last May not wealth distribution and “socialism”?
    Sarah Palin is a Fraud and must bet stopped before she messes up USA and the world

    November 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Tired Of Paying

    This is a perfect example of why I am tired of having to pay more and more taxes. I work very hard for the salary I make and I am tired of being punished for it. I am paying for people like this "Aunt" all the time. She is not the only one.

    The entire welfare system is a joke. So...let's pour MORE MONEY into it....and take it from those of us who are working hard for a living, abiding by the rules, and paying our taxes!!!!! Mr.Obama wants to expand this ridiculous welfare system and wants to punish those Americans who are working hard for a living.

    That's the problem with our society today...reward those who do not want to abide by the rules, and punish those who do. The squeaky wheel gets the "oil".

    November 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. Smart One

    Nothing at this point can change my mind and nor will it. I believe in Obama's message and do not care about the AUNT..that's a NON ISSUE for me!
    Cindy McCain has drug issues and is bi polar. Palin also has issues hence her medical record has not been released!

    I want to see what's in their closets!

    You cannot bring it so don't try. We are a country of illegals and always will be because your relatives were!

    November 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. jim, kansas city

    even though I am voting conservative. This issue does not have any importance. Apparently lady has gone through legal system, has not found any understanding from the government. She is willing to participate in donating to Obamas campaign, all the power to her.
    What we see here is a immigrant from another country trying to obstaing legal status in this country and embracing the politics and way of life here.
    If it was up to me I would grant her asylum.

    McCain/Palin

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. Bob

    This will rise the question of immigration issues towards obama. What can he do to the other 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. wildflower

    This is ridiculous. How do we know she is who they say she is – I'll bet there are lots of people claiming to be relatives of Obama these days. How do we know Obama even knew she was there? Even if it is all true, why is it significant? This is even more irrelevant than McCain's brother (Joe the Hothead) and his 911 call.

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. Rachel

    CNN you are really loosing it...You are going to say anything to tarnish Obama while old man McCain and Ignorant and stupid Palin are getting a free ride – you are disgusting.....

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Alex

    Susan – you are very silly. This woman is harming every taxpayer. Please start paying my share of her benefits!!!! By 2025, 25% of the federal budget will go to entitlement programs. In case I ened to spell it out for you: THAT IS BAD.

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. NJ

    I'm getting a knot in my stomach. I can definitely see the McCain camp running with this one.

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. A NATION OF WINERS

    IT IS SO IMPRESSIVE TO SEE CNN & THE BUSH & MCBUSH

    ADMINISTRATION, TEAM UP & SAVE THIS NATION FROM THE

    POSSIBLE WRONG DOINGS OF AUNT ZEITUNI.

    WHERE WERE YOU GUYS FOR THE PAST 8 YEARS WHILE

    THESE VULTURES TOOK APART US & THE WHOLE WORLD?

    LIKE ALL GOOD NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ?

    COLLECTING YOUR AD DOLLARS !!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Trysh in Los Angeles

    His Kenyan family was never a part of his life until HE went to find them. They didn't help his mother raise him and seemingly are only around and claiming him now because he is highly successful and running for president. He is no more responsible for THEIR actions than they were for him as a child in their family. Besides, why is Obama's family free targets, but everything about McCain's and Palin's family is supposedly off limits??

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. obama 08-12

    mcbush,you are so deseparate,this is not an issue.

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. oscar

    REAL AMERICAN! PRO AMERICANS! What sayeth thou about such comments? why are people trying to make the one and indivisible America divisible. whatever we sow that we shall reap. Desperation to be a president and becoming a president will come and go but the scares of all that we say and do will take long to be cleared. Be WARNED! United we stand, devided we fall.Take a clue of what is happening in countries that had racial and ethnic biases and segregations and see how "peaceful" and "organized" they are livinglly . Go to Iraq, go to Africa and bring a feed back on ethnic disturbances. Finally, i needed to know what type of blood flows in the vain of REAL American' and FAKE Americans.

    November 1, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Shawn

    It amazes me how people write comments like "who cares, what about Cindy McCain's drug addiction" when she is the spouse and not even running for office. The person on top of the Dem ticket has admitted to cocaine use. I really don't think that Cindy McCain's drug use is a good topic to point out if I were an Obama supporter as there will be a finger pointing right back at you.

    November 1, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Matt Sanchez

    How does someone staying here illegally benefit from government subsidized housing?

    November 1, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. KACE

    MANY, MANY HISPANIC FAMILIES HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM, AND SO WHAT?????????
    THIS IS PROOF THAT WE NEED IMMIGRATION REFORM IN THIS COUNTRY, OBAMA KNOWS IT AND HE WILL BRING THIS AND DEAL WITH THIS IN A HUMANE WAY, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    GO OBAMA, GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THIS IS JUST GOING TO HELP OBAMA WITH THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY, AND ALL OTHER COMMUNITIES THQAT HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM.

    OBAMA – BIDEN 08

    November 1, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Priscilla

    Since his Aunt is allegedly here illegally wouldn't you think that Obama would want to do anything and everything in his power to rectify this?This shows me once again that he is not the right President for our great country, he is slack in his work and now in his home, why should we want or trust someone with those credentials? If he is having his Aunt here illegally, that tells me that he's using his power card to get what he wants for himself and not looking out for our country, so what would change if he was really in power? I'll tell you, it would be even worse, we thought we had it bad with Clinton? With his personal spending and partying well this one would be even worse!

    November 1, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Tom in MD

    I'm sure over the next two days we'll be hearing a lot more anti-Obama news that "may" be true that we of course will not able to verify before the election. Mini "swift boats", if you will. Hopefully, this time, Americans will thumb their noses at the barrage of non-news we will be facing and vote based on facts that we do know–Obama's and McCain's positions on the issues and their ability to stay calm and use good judgment in difficult situations.

    November 1, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Virginia 4 Obama

    CNN Shame on you!! What does this have to do with Obama?? Thats not Obama's business.. Wait a mint CNN did McCain campaign gave you this news to post and to destroy Obama's future! This wont do any Shizzz!! McCain and Palin are losing thats why they are sooooo dam desperate!!

    Obama/Biden 08!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. SJ

    Forgot another point...
    – MY TAX DOLLAR pays for her ILLEGAL housing, and she gives money to Senator Obama's campaign, so my tax dollar is paying for Senator Obama's campaign, against my wishes. Sounds like a ROBBERY to me.

    November 1, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. McCain 08

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA now we know why That One wants to give illegal immigrants the right to a drivers license and Social Security and Medicaid benefits

    November 1, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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