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. Texun

    Let's see: she's his step-aunt, sister of the father who walked away from the marriage, and he's supposed to keep track of her? Well! What about John McCain's third cousin and Sarah Palin's husband, the secessionist?

    November 1, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. ANGIE

    PALINS MEDICAL RECORDS ANYONE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE OUT LAST WEEK WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?

    November 1, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. Mariah - Miami

    So this is the breaking news! It seems more important than Bush pushing for final regulations which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment.
    The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory from Bush and almost impossible to be revert.

    November 1, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. berkshire brian

    This is completely irrelevant to Obama's candidacy, and the right wing Republicans know it. If were discovered that Joe the Plumber's grandfather was reputed to be a Nazi concentration camp guard, would CNN report that before it was confirmed? Just asking....

    November 1, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. DI

    OH BY THE WAY, IT'S ABOUT TIME CNN!!!

    November 1, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. mama

    Barack means 'WHO IS BLESSES' swahili words......No matter what & how hard you anti-Obama poeple try to do its going no where just like sarah Plalin's brigde to no where.....Barack is blessed, you guys are waisting your time. please we want to hear more important issues , Aunt Z is not going to rule our country barack is.

    Please CNN...would ask McCain and Palin this question for me? How are those expensive cloths they said they are going to donate going to help poor people like me? Some people are leaving in a car.....lost their house, job and have a babies who wants dippers, and food on the table etc......
    ohhhh ohhh did Palin said she was a Wal-mart mom?...mhhhh please CNN ask?

    November 1, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. E.C.Coleman

    TO ALL OF YOU ON THIS BOARD WHO ASK......SO WHAT?

    BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA IS A GRADUATE OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL. REMEMBER THIS?

    THAT A MAN WHO IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF THIS NATION IS WILLING TO BREAK THE LAW AND HARBOR AN ILLEGAL ALIEN RELATIVE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

    A JUDGE DENIED HIS AUNT ASYLUM ....FOUR YEARS AGO. WHY IS SHE STILL LIVING HERE?

    THIS AUNT OF OBAMA'S IS ALSO A FOREIGNER. SHE CONTRIBUTED TO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN....AND THIS IS A FACT THAT IT IS 'AGAINST THE LAW,' TO ACCEPT CONTRIBUTIONS FOR A CAMPAIGN FUND FROM FOREIGNERS'

    OBAMA HAS BROKEN TWO LAWS:
    HE DID NOT ADVISE THE AUNT TO RETURN TO KENYA.
    HE ACCEPTED FOREIGN CONTRIBUTIONS TO HIS CAMPAIGN.

    ANY PERSON WHO IS WILLING TO BREAK OR VIOLATE UNITED STATES LAW IS NOT A VIABLE CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT.

    OBAMA WILL DO AND SAY ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED, AS WE HAVE SEEN IN THE PAST.
    THIS MAN, OBAMA, WHOEVER HE MIGHT BE, IS NOT TRUSTWORTHY AND IS NOT QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT.
    OBAMA HAS NOT EARNED THE TRUST OF THIS NATION BECAUSE HE LIES. ONE LIE AFTER THE OTHER IS SPOKEN BY OBAMA.

    GOD HELP AMERICA IS THIS STRANGER FROM NOWHERE IS ELECTED.
    WAKE UP ....AMERICANS!!! VOTE FOR HONOR AND INTEGRITY, AND PROVEN SERVICE TO AMERICA....SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN.

    November 1, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. tpipe Owosso MI

    I am glad to see his follow up comment.
    Shocking that he has 'no knowledge' of her status.
    Better to plead ignorance in a situation like this.
    When he takes the oath of office, I hope he realizes that he will have to uphold the constitution and obey the laws even if he isn't a citizen.

    November 1, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Jaime Maldonado

    We need a "Change", America needs to stop judging people by where they come from and what theyve done.Lets look at the present, right now our Economy is horrible we need a "Change" Obama is perfect for the job at these times. The media should be out of Politics.

    November 1, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. yonytayto

    well why is this i mean come on how many illegal immigrants are in the united states probably a good percentage where in New Haven,CT it is fine to be a illegal immigrant just as long as you have a New Haven Residence Card

    November 1, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Gary

    Who cares. If we were considered guilty of things our relatives did, then none of us would be innocent of anything! This is NOT news!

    November 1, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Starr

    What in the hell does this got to do with anything?? Journalist are so petty and dumb that It was a waste of my time to even read this article. Obama will be president whether bias people like it or not...

    November 1, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. AS

    It matters. It is about Obama's chaterteristics. He doesn't care about his brother in Kenya who lives under poverty. He doesn't care about his aunt who lives illegally in the States. This indicates he's not humane. He only cares about himself. If someone doesn't care about his relatives, does he/she cares about you?

    November 1, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. Mila

    SOS!Lou Dobbs!!! This breaking news will make his day...no, his year!
    Why are you guys even reporting this? you refused to run Obama's infomercial to continue cover presidential race and both candidates equally.... and you spent all night featuring McCain??? Today I'm officially done with CNN....MSNBS from now on....shameful.

    November 1, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. AD

    The media SHOULD be ashamed of themselves. This is really low, really low!

    November 1, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Elizabeth in Illinois

    So what? I have an adopted brother in Tennessee who's a complete nutcase and a total loser. I have no contact with him, so why would anyone connect him with me other than the fact that we are related?

    November 1, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Rick Smith

    I am an avid Obama supporter. I feel that CNN is just reporting what they should. This story seems a bit Fox Newsish, but do we want out news to be completely what we want to hear?

    November 1, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Steven

    Well....all I can say is......Why did McCain leave his wife for another women. My mother always told me never hold dirt in your hand when the wind is blowing!

    November 1, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Brenda

    Hmmm, let's see, it might be news because she's living off public housing illegally and she also donated to Obama's campaign, which is illegal. Anybody getting the repetitive wording "illegal"....or are you too blind to open you eyes and see the really Obama....

    Vote McCain/Palin and save our country from destruction

    November 1, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Jack in GA

    THIS IS NOT PERTAINING TO THIS PIECE.....PLEASE MAKE PALIN SHUT UP....I CANNOT TAKE ANOTHER DAY OF HER SRILL BANTER AND BALONEY....OH, TAKE GRAMPY MCSAME WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO SARAH

    November 1, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. George

    WHERE ARE PALINS HEALTH RECORDS? WHO IS SHE? AMERICANS DO NOT KNOW WHO SHE IS BECAUSE SHE HAS BEEN SHIELDED FROM THE PRESS? ARE AMERICANS BEING ASKED TO VOTE FOR THE MCCAIN/PALIN TEAM WITHOUT HER INNER SOUL BEING SUBJECTED TO SOME RIGOROUS QUESTIONING?

    A VOTE FOR MCCAIN/PALIN IS AN INDICATION THAT THE ABOVE DO NOT MATTER MUCH IN MAKING YOUR DECISION.

    AS FOR OBAMAS AUNT; HE IS TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDUCT/ACTIONS OF ALL HIS FAMILY MEMBERS? ....WELL, HIS COUSIN IN KENYA WAS CAUGHT WITH 6 MARBLES THAT BELONG TO HIS BROTHERS UNCLE. IMPEACH OBAMA.....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    November 1, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Obama Supporter

    This story is pretty shallow and the fact that the headline reads "may" be an illegal immigrant pretty much says this whole claim is probably bogus. Come on CNN. Who are you trying to be? The Weekly World News?

    Well, I guess I'd better make more phone calls to get out the vote for Obama.

    Thanks CNN for fueling my fire even more to get Barack Obama elected!!

    Obama-Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. Eric Beck

    Oh my goodness! Barack's team just messed WAY up. It's not believable that he wouldn't know his aunt's status. That statement – true or not – was BAD. Rather, they needed to simply ask for some time before they respond so they can thoroughly look into the matter. This...could...hurt.

    November 1, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. The Manchurian candidate

    I am John McCain. My friends and fellow prisoners, I approve of this mesasge! Get real

    November 1, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  25. shirley harrison

    I voted for Obama – I'm a senior citizen and I can't take any more of Bush – by the way gas went up 50 cents a gallon in my area today – so do I buy gas or food? Hopefully Obama knows what it is to be poor while McCain thinks you are poor if you make under $2 million – don't I wish.

    November 1, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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