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. Voter

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    How about reports on Palin instead? CNN has been trying too hard lately to make the republicans look good. From Larry King, Campbell Brown, Alexander Mooney, and now this.

    Why?

    Who cares about someone's aunt? If you are going to report on that, how about a report of the ties McCain has to that nazi guy that went to prison? Or the legislation he pushed so that people born outside the US but who are citizens because of their parents, can be president – he was born in Panama. How about McCain's first marriage and how he dumped his wife because she was somewhat disabled – and he dated Cindy before his first divorce was final?

    November 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. LENO

    BULL!!!!!!!!!!! OBAMA DID NOT BREAK ANY LAWS AND DID NOT HARBOR AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT. Know the laws before you quote them, people!!!! To those who think she is benefiting from tax payers money, STOP PAYING YOUR TAXES THEN, IF IT BOTHERS YOU SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Voter

    Who cares about someone's aunt? If you are going to report on that, how about a report of the ties McCain has to that nazi guy that went to prison? Or the legislation he pushed so that people born outside the US but who are citizens because of their parents, can be president – he was born in Panama. How about McCain's first marriage and how he dumped his wife because she was somewhat disabled – and he dated Cindy before his first divorce was final?

    November 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. dlh

    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. "

    This is very revelant – Obama is preaching to the entire nation that he is the one who can dig us out the ditch, but has no knowledge of how to fix things within his own family! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. BP

    CNN is on target because if they did not report it, then everyone else would be. CNN has been the most fair and balanced, not perfect but been very good I think. (I AM an Obama Supporter)

    This is no big deal most people do not care. They care about jobs etc. That is the issue now.

    I support Obama for these reasons but another one not often discussed. He on his own webiste supports a solution for Amtrak (improving it) and getting high speed rail in this country. He is the ONLY canadate for president that has ever taken transportation up as an issue. That and many other reasons I have voted for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. Brian B

    Give the republicans credit, they are TRYING to judge Obama on the content of his character. They are having a tough time shaking that other reason to judge him.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Rick in NJ

    Well, if this is the October surprise, I'm quite let down. What a distracting non-story.

    Can't wait until Obama's acceptance speech Tuesday night.

    RM

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. lucky to be born here

    Geez leave the poor woman alone, it's so easy to judge others until we've spent a moment of strife in their shoes.

    Imagine having nowhere to go but being denied asylum for no good reason? These laws need to be re-written, and changed for those who have contributed to our country and obeyed our laws faithfully.

    Unless you are Native American, we are all children of immigrants who came here when the rules were much different, half of whom would have never gotten in here today.

    Why bring this up? McCain's family owned slaves, illegal immigrants brought here against their will!

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. ThatOne

    Quick, drag her off to GITMO. This is just one more example of Broken Government. For pete sack, the highjackers were here illegally even after the FBI was warned about them from the flight schools. Nelson Mandella was on the terror watch list and could not get off without an act of congress. There are congressmen on the no fly list. Get a grip CNN.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. obama

    SO WHAT IF SHE IS , WHAT HAS THAT GOT TO DO WITH OBAMA.

    WE ARE ALL IMMIGRATS.

    GET OVER YOURSELVES CNN

    BUSH IS BEHIND THIS AND THIS WILL BACKFIRE.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Andy

    Thank you for objective reporting, CNN. As an undecided voter, these types of stories are important to me.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. YT

    Ok who doesn't have a relative who they can't control? Palin has a pregnant daughter. This has nothing to do with decisions Obama has made.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. yvonne

    TO THE MEDIA – I've watched you dwindle from a legitimate source of information to a pathetic conveyor of propoganda. Reporting on this woman a few days before the election is like combing the sands with a fine tooth comb looking for a pebble.

    After the elections, it'll be good riddance bias media.

    Yvonne

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. Republican for Obama

    Brandy: I completely agree! I think that anyone who voted for Bush in 2004 should be deported, lol.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. SHELLY

    WHY WOULD YOU REPORT ON AN ISSUE THAT HAS NOT EVEN BEEN PROVEN TO BE CORRECT ESPECIALLY WHEN WE ARE 3 1/2 DAYS AWAY FROM THE ELECTION.
    YOU ARE BECOMING FOX NEWS #2-AND THAT IS NOT GOOD.
    WHY-WHY–WOULD YOU PRINT THIS STORY-
    TO HURT HIM?
    TO HURT HER?
    TO HURT THE ELECTION?
    SEEMS LIKE ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!!!
    GO OBAMA-BIDEN-THE WORLDS FINGERS ARE CROSSED THAT WE FINALLY HAVE A BRILLIANT LEADER IN THIS COUNTRY.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Independent

    Verify before you report. If this is McCain's surprise. Not a very good one.!!! won't change my vote.

    November 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. mk3872

    After going after every single person Obama every met in his entire life, the right-wing now targets a little old lady living in asylum who is a half-aunt of Obama's. Real nice. Now if only the GOP had a way to show that their POLICIES were better instead of dragging everyone else through the mud ... A real grand old party, aint it?

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. Ghost

    Who cares about his half Aunt? The crap that has come out this election cycle is insane. I got my first robo call last night. I can not wait till Tuesday for this headache to be over.

    Remember to get out and VOTE Nov. 4th.

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. michael

    people give cnn some breathing room.
    they are not neither left nor right,
    but someone in there does need to impress his boss too. Just because it is Cnn doesn't mean that the station is any more sensible than the rest.

    by this time everyone has gotten the important news. So no point calling against cnn.

    I am sure however, McCain can come up with an add where he can use CNN for a change and Obama's aunt as being a threat to national security.

    But if you want anything but honest reporting go and get the news from Deutsche welle, reuters, bbc, or ap.

    OBAMA 08!

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Pam Williams

    It is an issue. Illegal contributions. At one time, he claimed to not know where she is. Come on, living in New York. People only want you not to print this story, afraid it might not look good to People who are sitting on the fence in deciding who to vote for. Those of you who say MCain not born In USA...Obama still has questions about being born in USA – Responsible coverage meens reporting on both sides.

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. Dallas_1

    People kill me with all this digging on both sides. That with anything else if you dig to hard you can find anything that some one is not going to agree with. And how many people one this forum has relatives that they have not heard from in years. You have families that have relatives that may live in the same city that may not see each other.

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. D&D

    Lou Dobbs will not let this one go, I'm ready to bet on it!

    He claims to do/say/see things in independent perspective, but that's not what he does! I can't stand his show!

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. paul

    Dont you guys ever think about important issues like the state of the economy? I have no house and cant even afford one, should that not be a better story to write on?

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. obama 08-12

    mccain was born in panama,it is that make him illegal too?

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. Dixie AZ

    I'm not voting for a member of the Keating five. McCain is a gambler. We don't hear about that much, but he spreads his money around in the casinos. He reported winning only $200 in 2007. Cripes, he isn't even a good gambler. He crashed 2 Navy planes before being shot down over Hanoi. He isn't a good pilot either. He is an adulterer. That doesn't seem to bother the republican right.. He is a good ole boy in the worse sense. Dirty jokes.

    November 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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