November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
8 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. alvino

    CNN maybe the worst source of fair journalism. Maybe CNN should find the facts, and if Obama's aunt is an illegal, then report it. Maybe CNN thinks this the October, I mean November surprise. Maybe CNN can get her sent back to Kenya. You go CNN!

    November 1, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Joan , Ontario

    CNN is this your "November Surprise"? This ticker sounds like a desperate McCain ad. You wouldn't view his 30 min. ad and now you print this. Where's the "no bias, no bull"?

    November 1, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Iowa Obama

    To Stephen, Wilmore, Kentucky,

    Obama was born in Hawaii, a state of the United States of America, just like ole good Kentucky (remember slavery?). I lived in Kentucky for three years and would say that i experienced alot of racism than any other state i have lived here in the United States of America including Hawaii.
    So Stephen, your suspicion of Barack Obama's citzenship is nothing short of hidden racism.

    November 1, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. marylv

    If this was John McCain's relative, you can bet it would be front page news! My question is how did she qualify for public housing? Don't we have enough real citizens who need homes? I would rather see a homeless person have housing than illegals.

    Obama has too many shady characters surrounding him....birds of a feather flock together....a person is judged by the company he keeps. I really don't think Obama has changed his views overnight, but I do think he has changed his views to get elected. My problem with him is that I think he will revert to his radical self if he is elected. He's a real wolf in sheeps clothing. Be very afraid!

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. Joanna

    Independant vet: God invented spell check for a reason. WRIGHT is not a word. As far as donations, well, he got 3 from me, which has never happened before in my life!

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  6. David

    Nosthing like inciting panic and lies even before it's verified CNN. "MAY be illegal immigrant"????? Oh yea, give the pundits something to push around in the news. How about saying that McCain recently looks and acts as though he's finally lost his marbles. That is closer to the truth.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Dimitri Whitworth

    Way to go, Joyce in Florida. This is Dimitri from Georgia (living in France). You are absolutely right. The Repugs have NOTHING but negative and, worse, scandalous and lying propaganda to go on now. Maybe even Georgia will go Democrat!

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Tony

    His aunt is an illegal immigrant CNN just doesn't want to report the story correctly. She has been ordered deported by an immigration judge.
    I still do not understand how you Obama zombies can vote for him considering his strong political ties to the radical Louis Farakhan, crazy Reverend Wright, Mr. Ayers a well-known terrorist, and his ties to various other terrorist organizations in the middle east, but whatever (by the way I can't stand McCain either). Back to the point of the story.
    I am tired of American citizens being murdered, raped, molested, kidnapped, burglarized, or beaten by illegal aliens/immigrants on a daily basis. Illegal is illegal. This woman was colelcting FREE housing and benefits meant for people in our country who are here LEGALLY. We need to take care of our own people first.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. alberto alvarez

    What's the big deal? The repubs campaign has been so dirty, disorganized, and shoot from the hip style, that I have no doubt that they will make a big deal aout this.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. Tony

    I see how it is...if it had been Mccain with an illegal relative it would be different....but being its obama...everybody feels its ok to have double standards.....I say if she's an illegal...deport her! Liberals! It will be the downfall of our nation.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. Peter in Virginia

    To sum up most of the earlier comments....CNN is at it again. Maybe CNN and FOXNews should merge, they already share the same journalistic acumen....

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  12. LT

    Lord have mercy!

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  13. John

    I love how some of you Neo-Cons have stretched this to include Obama not adhering to the Constitution (Al) and John (thanks for being a deadbeat with the same name as I) stating that we need to look at his birth cert. again. Those are just a flat out moronic statements. Although, consider the sources. We are not going to get any more intellectual quotes than those that we received from John (still hurts knowing this Einstein has the same name) and Al. Any statement of substance is beyond their capabilities.

    Frustrated Conservative said it best. Bush and Cheney are the ones who should be doing time for violating the Constitution (they are Neo-Cons, aren't they John and Al?).

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  14. what?

    Say what Garret?
    and how is his aunt a shady character and what does this reveal about Obama?

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. Delores

    CNN is really showing its true colors for McCain. I wonder why they did not mention the fact that she requested asylum and it was rejected by the Bush Adminstration as reported by the AP. I am really sadden and disappointed that CNN was really unfair about reporting on this. This is a very serious allegation. Now I hope CNN will be honorable enough to let this be posted. If they don't I know they are really in the tank for McCain now.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. Dan

    This must be the October surprise.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  17. John

    Typical, nothing suprises me with Obama. He is above everyone.

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  18. teri

    CNN you need to clarify this is Senator Obama's estranged fathers half sister hardly a close relative that you seem to be implying.

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  19. BM

    What about McCain? What about Palin's medical records? What about the first dude who belong to an independent party? What about McCain's ancestors of owning 120 slaves. Maybe she is related to him too!

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  20. banderson

    There have been stories about Obama's half brother and now his father's aunt . Where are the stories about McCain's siblings like that idiot brother of his. I repeat CNN where are the stories about McCain and his family?

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  21. Julian, AZ

    Okay....she is here illegally, but the October Surprise is good news that she made effort to legalize her status but it was denied. Do you right wing morons know that she still has the right [and may be still within that window] to appeal the Immigration Judge decision?

    Her continuops stay is not yet criminal in nature. If the Window for Voluntary departure expires, the Law will issue a deportation order which will make her [until then] a criminal.


    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  22. badger

    she has been here,and living on welfare that we pay for and the dems. think that is ok...omg ...this just keeps getting better!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  23. Doreen

    If Obama's aunt is here illegally, and he knows it, this is a new issue. I am surprised it did not come out sooner. She should go back to her country and should not be living in public, subsidized by tax dollars, housing if she is nothere legally. Obama knows it thats' why she has been so quiet throughout this campaign. This was in the Boston Globe yesterday and she has his picture all around her apartment. She is being quiet outside because she knows she is breaking the law and so does he. She should be deported to her home country. How did she get here in the first place? When a policitican/public servant breaks the law for his/her family it makes me wonder what else they will overlook....especially if they will benefit.

    I am undecided in my vote......this is definitely going on the con list for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. lezah2

    Could Deval Patrick be involved in providing public housing to a person he knows is a illegal alien? His aunt told the press a few days ago that the Obama campaign had told her she could not speak about him until after Nov 4. Imagine that.

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  25. RD

    when did CNN turn into the national enquirer must be a slow news day

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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