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. Who isn't illegal

    Who isn't illegal in this country? If through Adam and Eve we were born into sin. That being true, for everybodies who's ancestors that either moved over here, some would say stole America. Or my ancestor who were stolen or tricked to come over here. If you are not of an Indian descendant then we are all here illegally.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. Bob

    Obama's citizenship is a non-issue. Several courts have already looked at the issue and tossed it. Unless you think a conspiracy started fifty years ago to turn a newborn baby into the first black president of the United States, you need to find a better reason to not vote for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  3. brock101

    McCain just tried to detach himself from the bailout vote. You mean to tell me that you would vote for a man that can't remember he voted for the bailout plan? He has lost me when he voted against the Jim Webb G.I. bill. Check John McCain's voting record on veteran affairs.

    He started to change when he voted against the leahy amendment 3292 to stop war merchants from fraudulent billing, and $9,000,000.00 missing
    Contractors first.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  4. aaron

    All the republicans have been saying is be afraid to vote for obama for one reason or another.
    What is trying to get someone to do what you want through fear? Oh yeah terrorism. I'm calling it right now. The republicans are running terroristic campaign.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. ABrown

    I noticed a few paid bloggers are trying to question Obama's citizenship. His citizenship has been proven numberous times and his birth certificate has been reviewed. He is a citizen and so is McCain even though he was born on Panama. Do you honesty think the Republicans would let the issue of his citizenship go? They have investigated and investigated and found him to be a citizen, that is why they are not on television talking about it.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. Brenda

    What does this have to do with anything? Is there anyone in this country that Barack Obama is not resposible for these days?

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. Orisseau

    who cares ? is that news?

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  8. Joanna

    To Stephen in Kentucky: and John McCain was born in Panama, but he's still an American citizen. Obama was born in Hawaii (spelling?).
    If Obama and/or McCain weren't already "cleared", neither would be Federal Senators.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. gwen

    She MAY be in the U.S. illegally???? I mean come on!!! Is this really a story CNN?? And even if she is, it still is a very weak story... Why don't you cover something of substance!

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  10. K - FLORIDA

    HMMM, AND SO WERE THE EARLY COLONIST, JUST ASK THE NATIVE INDIANS.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. Y

    Shouldn't we be talking about John McCain who was born in Panama?

    November 1, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  12. USA-NC-08

    I am sure Unions will LOVE this. Don't illegals take jobs away from Americans? If the MSM would do it's job, and research all the claims about corrupt donations to the Obama campaign, this would have been discovered long ago. Not just now. Crazy.

    November 1, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  13. Susan MO

    I now am changing my for Hillary Clinton.

    November 1, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. duane

    I agree with all of your comments. Who Cares and is this really important news CNN. Shame on CNN if this is a news worthy story. Leave the old lady alone.

    November 1, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  15. cathy smithson

    Well you dems certainly ripped apart US citizen Joe the Plumber like ravaged wolves. So this lady who is illegally in the US certainly appears to be fair game at this point for a media frenzy as well. What goes around comes around. So auntie better be ready to have her whole life ripped apart and all her public records dug up and splayed on all the websites.

    November 1, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  16. Salty

    I wonder who she (and the other 10 milion like her) will vote for? I know that's illegal too, but hey – things are changing!

    November 1, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. Cheri

    So what!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Jason

    She is a criminal. Boot her out!

    If Obama won't take care of his blood relatives–his aunt in Boston and brother in Kenya, what makes you think that he is going to take care of you.

    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. Richard G

    While I am NOT an Obama supporter, I am for fairness. I'm sure there is more to this story, even if it has some truth to it. What is the ENTIRE story here. There is likely a logical explanation from the Obama side. We'll need to wait to hear. I have to admit, McCain's campaign is seemingly more and more frantic, and ensuring things like this just get thrown out there (from anonymous sources, no less). I am suspicious of anonymous sources. I think Obama would be the worst thing to ever happen to America, but it's appearing we are going to get him anyway.

    November 1, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. Hard Working Mom

    All of you who are saying "leave the old lady alone" and "who is she hurting"....You don't get it! Has it occurred to you that we as a country are paying for this woman's upkeep? That we told her to leave the US four years ago? Where was Obama then when his auntie needed him? I guess that's when he was buying his $1.65 million home and living the good life. I guess spreading the wealth only means OTHER people's wealth. Shame on him for not taking care of his own. If this were a Republican auntie, you'd all be screaming. Please.

    November 1, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. Dave

    I'm not as rich as Sen. Obama but if I had a relatives living in poverty, or public housing, they would be getting some help from me. Why is Obama ignoring his own family members who need help?

    Does he just want to send them a govt. check after he gets elected?

    November 1, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. Ed

    November 1st, 2008 9:22 am ET

    LEAVE THE OLD LADY ALONE YOU JERKS!!!

    Obama sure does he spends 7.5 mill on a TV ad beu cant help his Aunt out. And he has the gaul to tell us to spread the wealth around. When he cant lift a finger to help hos own family

    November 1, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. Lisa

    If McCain, Bush or the GOP thinks this will change my vote, well then they are so mistaken. These kinds of attacks and stories are what drove me to Obama. McCain is a pathetic old man.

    November 1, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. yellowbmblbee

    wow...those $5 donations realllly paid for those tv ads....what a bunch of boneheads...

    there are TONS of illegal immigrants all over the nation....you McCain supporters are the most divisive, negative, hate-filled, SCARY people....

    I can't wait for this campaign to be over...I've never felt so much hate in all my life....now attacking an old woman....I believe in payback....I've seen it in action all my life....go ahead, go after her....see what happens to you...

    Idiots..

    November 1, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  25. Sandy

    WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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