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. Willie Baker

    Well when the Republicans could find anything on Obama they went back a generation and sought out something that does not affect Obama- I am so sick of the dirty politics of the Republicans.... Do they really want us to bring out all of the information on Palin & McCain????? Then the Repubs are cowards,...

    November 1, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Renae

    Boy, the republicans sure are desperate and digging. Pretty soon we'll hear about how many cavities Obama had as a child or that one of his uncles had a DUI once.

    November 1, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. johnrj08

    Kathleen Parker

    Peggy Noonan

    Susan Eisenhower

    Colin Powell

    George Will

    Christopher Buckley

    David Brookes

    Ken Duberstein

    Scott McClellan

    All of these distinguished Republicans agree on two things: John McCain should not be President of the United States, and Barack Obama should.

    November 1, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. Oregonian for Obama/Biden

    EVERYBODY WHO CALLS OBAMA ILLEGAL, GET THIS THROUGH YOUR HEAD.

    BORN IN HONOLULU=US CITIZEN
    AMERICAN PARENT=US CITIZEN

    EVEN IF HE WASN'T BORN IN AMERICA, WHICH HE WAS, HE WOULD STILL BE PRESIDENT. THE GOP RELIES ON YOUR IGNORANCE, DON'T FUEL THEIR FIRE!!!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008 FOR THE CHANGE WE NEED

    November 1, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. RON

    just like the cuban in florida allows to stay but not the haitians. these racism plot against black people need to stop, m waiting on obama biden to stop these fools.....

    November 1, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. chris

    This story is good for barack. do you realize how many voters in arizona, new mexico have illegal immigrants as relatives???? Bad move McBush

    November 1, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. DARKWAH

    THE WORLD IS WATCHING AMERICA,HOW AMERICANS ARE CALLING OBAMA NAMES AND STUF, ALL BECAUSE OF HIS IDENTITY,BUT GOD IS IN CONTROLLED.AMERICANS CLAIMED TO BE A CHRISTIANS BUT THEY DON,T KNOW GOD`S WAYS AND GOD`S WILL.BUT I KNOW THIS (GOD`S WILL,WILL BE DONE),,,,1,SAMUEL,16;1-13

    November 1, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Rob

    "CNN has not been able to independently verify her immigration status."

    BUT LET'S PRINT IT ANYWAYS!!! Way to go for journalistic integrity. What if it turns out the originators were wrong and now you have to print that she is here legally? It makes you look like idiots either way.

    Maybe a better story would be where did the info come from that she's an illegal alien. The original story said it was unclear that the info didn't come from within the federal government.

    November 1, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Sean

    And are we to believe that Obama is responsible for the actions of his relatives? So McCain is responsible for his brother calling 911 and yelling at the operator because he was stuck in heavy traffic?

    Come on – give me a break. Neither candidate is responsible for the actions of people outside of their campaigns.

    November 1, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. BH

    This seemingly non-care of his his aunt along with the non-care of his brother in Africa and you begin to understand why I am afraid that Mr. Obama is an empty suit. He is an attorney. Why has he not taken care of this legal issue of his Aunt's? Family is family and I would like to know how he cares for his (excluding his immediate family) . Too bad the media has not reported much on Mr. Obama's life. So much known by the media about GW Bush was not reported also in 2004 . The media cheered him on as a "reformer."

    November 1, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. Ross McCart

    Let's see if I have this correct. Both Mr. & Mrs. Obama are lawyers or at least they have law degrees. Mr. Obamas' aunt is not a citizen of the United States, she is a citizen of Kenya. She had an Immigration Hearing that was her chance to state her case to remain in the United States but neither her nephew or his wife took the time to go plead her case in front of the Immigration Judge. How proud he must be to be able to say I'm the President of the United States and my aunt is an illegal alien. I hope this doesn't effect his winning because I can't wait to get all the free handout stuff I have been promised.

    November 1, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Miami for Obama

    Someone can explain how can this woman be Obama aunt if she is 56 years old?

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. JL

    How come Sarah Palin isn't out there saying that family is off limits, like Obama did for her with the pregnant teen?

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Linda

    Who cares! We need to see Palin's medical records and Joe the plummer credential if he going to be part of the WH as McCain stated.

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. NJVote08

    November 1, 2008
    Obama's aunt may be illegal immigrant

    ______________________________________________________

    So are Palin and her entire family. They are from Alaska (the out beyond!). They want to be a separate country but want to continue getting big chunks of PORK from Washington.

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. Valeria

    Enough with these nonsense.
    Please America focus on the real issues and on the one person that can get us out of this mess.
    Thanks to all immigrants if their new generation produced open minded and illuminated men as Obama.
    Enough with conservatism, greed and narrow minded ignorance that is bringing America on its knees.

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Sammy

    Distant relative? Sad that many of these posts refer to an aunt as a distant relative. Shows how far American has gone to the destruction of the family. Instead of taxing the "rich" under Obama's plan, we could deport ALL illegals and reduce the Federal and states spending by billions immediately. Sorry that Obama does not demonstrate family values.

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. Michael watching from Canada

    Is this the Republican October/November surprise?

    Is this going to have any impact on the election? Absolutely not.

    Did you know that Obama attended a meeting with someone who worked for an accounting firm that did tax returns for a company that provided consulting for an importer of Persian rugs who happened to be the second cousin of a shepherd who knows Bin Laden's butcher?

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. Troy

    Who cares?

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  20. Republican for Obama

    Wow..poor repubs! They must be in trouble, they are throwing everything they can at Obama and seeing what sticks...Sad. Back to the drawing board, eh McCain?

    Hope will prevail over fear!
    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. Christian Breyer

    How silly to try and slow down Barak Obama by something so unimportant!!!

    I am voting for you Obama!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Dawn McCard

    This is absolutely ridiculous. More trash on the campaign trail. The status of his aunt, which is an administrative issue, has NO bearing on Barack Obama's capabilities of presidential elect. Many Americans, have family members living in this country, whom are waiting their time out, hopeful of becoming a citizen some day. Isnt that what USA stands for?

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Disgusted Independent

    It is odd that many of the same people I saw commenting on how Palin's daughter being an unwed teenage mother was a big issue are now saying "so what?" and "why does it matter?" when it comes to Obama's aunt being an illegal immigrant. For shame people, for shame.

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. travel29

    I really could care less about his extended families citizen status. Obviously a last minute stunt made in desperation from the CNN, conservative morning crew. This has nothing to do with him, let alone a woman he hardly knows.

    Come on guys, let's not get to sleazy! This looks like cheap goods. I had more respect for CNN then this, but now I'm not so sure.

    November 1, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Jim F.

    This has nothing to do with Sen. Obama?????!!!! It has EVERYTHING to do with Sen. Obama!!!!!!!!! His aunt is living in the US ILLEGALLY - and she is ILLEGALLY living in taxpayer-funded PUBLIC HOUSING ILLEGALLY!!!!!!!! AND, he has been KNOWINGLY accepting ILLEGAL campaign contributions from a NON-US CITIZEN living ILLEGALLY in this country!!!!! As a senator, Obama has pledged to support and defend the laws of this land and the US Constitution. This is proof positive that he could care less about the laws of this land and the US Constitution. His word is NOTHING!! And you people want to elect someone president who flaunts his disrespect for this land and its laws and its constitution???!!! It has nothing to do with him???!!! You people are INSANE!!! It has EVERYTHING to do with him and he should be brought up on federal corruption charges!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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