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. "

Full story

soundoff (1,442 Responses)
  1. dlc

    Obama has some nerve saying the American people are selfish for not wanting to pay high taxes while he has an aunt living in poverty illegally in the US. My God, this man is truly disgusting.
    Don't worry though Obomonots, I sure he will try and blame his moral failings and stinginess on Bush the bogeyman. Then all of you can go back into denial and pretend that Obama isn't the train wreck that he is.

    November 1, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. Mike from Ontario

    You can smell the desperation all the way from here in Canada. This is not a news story. This is a sad excuse for a right leaning story used to try to bolster fear voters. Enough already.
    McCain is willing to try anything now. I give him another 5 hours until the word communist comes in to the mix.
    Why has no one questioned Palin's judgement for being married to a man who was part of the A.I.P.? Funny how that never gets brought up.

    Canada supports Obama / Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Carol

    What bothers me is not that his aunt is here illegally; what bothers me is that he "didn't know" she was here illegally. His "I didn't know's" keep piling up.

    November 1, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. John

    Multiply her by 10 million, which is the conservative estimate of illegals here scamming the country for food, housing, healthcare and childcare. Whoever gets elected needs to take on immigration reform with a vengeance.

    Why are hard working legal US citizens paying taxes to fund these people? No other country would tolerate it, why are we?

    November 1, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Karen-California

    OK. Let's say she is here illegal; #1 She's one in millions of illegals here in the United States, #2 What does her being here illegal have to do with Obama? I have relatives who've done things I don't agree with, Some of them who has broken the law. I did not know about it until it was public information. I had nothing to do with what they did and I had no knowledge of it when they were doing it ;therfore I hold no responsibility for it or culpability for it. I thought that CNN was bigger than reporting some crap like this. What is wrong with you CNN? I watch network news everyday, usually CNN. If you all continue to report mess like this, I'll turn you off!

    November 1, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Vic

    What about the economy?

    Registered Republican "voted" Obama/Biden 08.

    Go Democrats!

    November 1, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Carol

    What bothers me is not that his aunt is here illegally; what bothers me is that he "didn't know" she was here illegally. His "I didn't know's" keep piling up.

    November 1, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. TrulyTru

    I'm happy to know that Obama didn't abuse his political position to pull a favor to help a family member – like Palin tried to do in TrooperGate to help her sister get custody of her kids.

    To me, that's the most important issue...*ethical behavior* and neither McCain OR Palin can even pronounce the word ethical.

    CNN had to report this because the AP is all over it, of course.

    November 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. rom@noune

    What the heck, we all from somewhere else and come in the US illegally. Whites from Europe, Blacks from Africa and Asians from Asia.This land belongs to Indians. Deal with it!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Smart1

    We have been waiting for the other boot to drop, well AP& CNN you will have to do better than this. It is not enough because we the voters are not willing to allow any Right wing nut smear to help the Repugs win this year. AP press broke the story and they have been against Bracks candidacy since the primaries. It was a story written last week by one of the other news papers, AP was called out on why they have been so criticle of Barack it wasn't until then they started to do a little negative reporting on Mc Cain. This has NOTHING to do with Barack as a president, who knows how many illegals are in this country living who are related to other politicians.We cannot control the actions of others and I doubt very seriously that Barack knew this if he did he would have encouraged her to return to Kenya until this was resolved. Also why was her application denied is the question. Is it because this country is so biased against immigrants from African and Cuban countries. They seem to always deny these people citizenship.

    November 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. w. wright lawrence

    It's difficult to believe that anybody can seriously believe that Obama isn't an American citizen or that McCain is ineligible to become president because he was born in Panama. The Panama where McCain was born was the PANAMA CANAL ZONE, an American possession governed by American laws, We voluntarily turned the zone over to Panama 25 or 30 years ago. As for Obama, it's difficult to believe that once he became a serious contender for the Democratic nomination that the Clinton folks didn't check out his birth records. . Ditto too for the Rove hatchet men who took over the McCain campaign. I'm certain that if they hadn't been able to verify that he was born in Hawaii we would have heard about it. As for his half-aunt, he confirmed the relationship for the London Times earlier this week. What's interesting is how the London Times, owned by Rupert Murdock, found out. As far as I know, the Times does not cover the Boston Housing Authority or the US Immigration service.

    Sierra Bill

    November 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. mjc

    Hey CNN, how about doing a real story about how Sick to Death many American's are about being bombarded daily with the Sleazy Campaign Tactics used by a certain Candidate?

    November 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. ~Change We Need!

    Who the hell cares, CNN?!?!

    I came to the US after graduating from college, and yeah, I was illegal for a full year... Worked my fingers to the bone and my butt off and now I own 2 business and LOVE this country. 80% of my neighbors are 1st generation immigrants too, all of them are decent, honest and hard-working people... I much rather live amongst them than those white
    McCain/Palin suporters freaks!

    November 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. PinNC

    Maybe Barack's Auntie should send Ted Stevens a page from her playbook. Her status is not criminal. Her choice now is "to do the right thing"!!!

    Does this lastest qualify as an October Surprise? We'll see who attacks immigration on the stump today. Nobody.

    November 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. Chris, Antioch, CA

    It's too late baby, now, it's too late....

    Obama / Biden 08 and 12

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. Caral from SoCal

    I live in southern California, and for those of you who do not "get it" – let me help. It MATTERS because if the woman is illegal, and living in government housing, she is living at the expense of AMERICAN taxpayers. Now, I donate to worldwide charities, and in fact my son is traveling next week to an orphanage in Uganda to work for a while before college, but that is NOT how our limited tax dollars should be used – to care for citizes of other countries. OUR nation is in an economic crisis. This woman (if indeed she is here illegally) represents a huge part of the problem – illegals draining our resources. Here in California the problem is evident in every single emergency room.

    It MATTERS because Obama wants to be our next president. It MATTERS because he obviously knows her status and has done nothing. Is this how he would treat all illegals? Then he would bankrupt our nation. Is this just how he treats his aunt, but would deport or deal with other illegals? Then it is hypocrisy.

    No thank you.

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Martin

    This is such a non-story. Some distant relative who may be in the country illegally? When you're first or second generation American, those people are gonna exist whether you know about them or not. Beyond that, who cares?

    It's clearly an intentionally timed election weekend oppo-dump. If this is the best McCain can do, then i'd say it's smooth sailin' for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. SD

    Hold on, and wait a minute. He said he didn't know, and being here illegal, atleast she had a permit, unlike the millions of others who are just here. Leave family out of this, because if we want to go there, we can go to how John McInsane left his disabled wife for Cindy. I am sure we can find some pictures of her rehab'ng and a copy of the divorce decree. Or maybe we need a paternity test for Palin's Grand Baby. Maybe that ain't really "the baby's daddy". I mean at that age when you giving it up, you just giving it up. Maybe it's really another "Joe-Six-Pack"Get my drift...don't go to the family thing, because we can really get nasty. Oh, and by the way, who's taking care of Obama's Aunt, well who is going to pay for the delivery of Palin's grand baby. The tax payers. Let's be sure and very sure we want to get this going. Just let me know and we can do it, game on!!

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Mindaugas from Lithuania

    I've been watching this election very closely for the last 13 months. And all this time I had faith that Obama will beat all those smears he was getting from Clinton and McCain campaigns. This "news" is another one in the series of "Throw any dirt on the other guy". I'm afraid that seduced by false (and also sometimes not false) attacks, American people will elect McCain with his completely unqualified VP. Horrible. The image of America would fall even more, knowing that an out-of-his-mind President with his unqualified Beauty queen would have to represent USA in this tough world.
    I hope Obama wins. Just look at Obama's popularity in the world against McCain: he beats him 4 to 1. Quite telling.

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Forever Liberal

    I'm sorry, if that's the best you can come up with, then you might as well give up. Obama is as clean as a whistle that's been dipped in bleach. People! Focus on the issues, not their personal life, unless it directly affects their ability to serve our country. Like someone said before me, I can't control the actions of my relatives; I doubt Obama can either if the articlr is true (which it probably isn't). Please verify an article BEFORE you post it.

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. Kay

    I don't know about Obama but I have never been very successful in controlling my relatives!

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Dr. Lecter, Baltimore MD

    HEY CNN, NOBODY CARES. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME?

    November 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. Kevin

    Democrats are a trashy rabble. Barack Hussain Obama is a suitable leader for the garden of weeds that the USA has become.

    Thank God I live in Europe.

    November 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. KG

    Chips , you idiot McCain was born on a US military base which is the same as being born on US soil. You think every baby born on a US base is an illegal. Why don't some of you people get a brain get your heads out of your butts.

    November 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Alex ALfaro

    I don`t care, i care what obama is going to do for this country.

    November 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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