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. oscar

    What next?

    November 1, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. jet in memphis

    who cares, leave the woman alone, you dumb repubs do not have anything to hold on than this stupid story.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  3. Republicans for Obama

    Who cares except McCain and he's full of idiots campaign cronies.
    Report something worthwhile.

    GET OUT AND BARACK THE VOTE! That's what matters.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. SMS

    Shoddy reporting. I expect rumor to be the flavor of the day on FOX news, but CNN?? C'mon! Just because a judge denied an asylum request doesn't mean she's here illegally. For all we (and CNN) knows, she could have a perfectly legit visa.

    This is not NEWS, it's gossip tabloid material. CNN, get your act together. If you can't VERIFY information, guess what? It's NOT news.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. Watermann

    I used to have a lot of admiration for the US, excluding G.W.Bush`s policies, until I watched on CNN the election campaigns from February 08 until today.
    It is fine to have a Constitution and it`s Amendments like you have, however it is disgusting how many people, parties, media make use of it.
    I have never in my life (60 years) experienced such a lot of smears, lies, ugly personal attacks, family attacks, discrimination of someone's character or colour of someone`s skin in the course of a political campaign.
    It is amazing how easy and without any kind of sadness you keep on talking about this poor situation which simply is in contradiction to your Constitution.
    After all, send Mr. Obama`s aunt back to Kenya if it is that what AP wants.
    Well, CNN, what do you stand for? Asking tough questions which nothing "Off limits"?

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. ANGIE

    LEAVE HER ALONE!! Why not Investigate Cindy Mccains half sister and how Cindy stole her half of her Inheriatence

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. Brenda

    When people are desperate they do desperate things. Look at how many illegal immigrants there are here and how we use them everyday to do some of the jobs we are too proud to do or won't do for the pay that comes with it. I'm sure there are many other senators even past presidents that have relatives that my not be here on the up and up. Let's get the MAN in the HOUSE. That's all that matters to me.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. gigs

    wasnt cindy mccain's father a convicted felon?

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. Ed Stump

    Can I ask one question, What does this have to do with Obama and his campaign for the presidency? I am pretty darn sure that most of us are our families keepers, especially our extended families. This is really gettign ridiculous. The sooner Obama wins and gets this behind us the better.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. will ny

    DISTRACTION..... VOTE ON TUESDAY.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. Vic NY

    Obama says he "not going to talk about this" illegal aunt
    What the hell else is he hiding from?
    He is a bloated wind bag – full of hot air.
    A political amateur that the press has fallen for.

    And, as usual, CNN, having fallen for this wind-bag, will not publish my comment. Shame on CNN and Shame on Obama.
    But then they've each brught shame on themselves.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Sag

    Talk about illegal and then talk about the last eight years of lies and deceptions.

    Who the hell cares about Obama's aunt? You have to say something detrimental don't you?

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Tim

    If asked, he would deny he knew anything about it.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. yeah yeah

    This is ridiculous ...and a perfect time to bring this up? yeah like she is going to affect the economy or anything. who cares? ..are the American people supposed to halt and investigate this or vote otherwise. We love the guy because of his ideas for this country and the sacrifices he has made. Not of where he hails from. Focus on important things. ..please

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Greg

    Good Grief, why is the press focusing on this? Where are Palin's medical records she said she would be releasing early last week? Why no mention about the bipartisan call for an apology from McCain for the actions of his campaign staff who descended on Alaska during the Troopergate investigation? And as far as the posters who are still under the belief that Obama is not an US citizen..you're hopeless.

    November 1, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. Dawn

    Let it go...How many of your ancestors were at once illegal...Well lets just say...All of us!!!!!!

    The American Indians should have told the first ones to go home and they can take back their country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Give this Auntie a break.....

    Go Obama/Biden08/12

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Canadian Who Can't believe you people

    So what?
    What is wrong with you people.
    Move on and vote Obama.

    Stop the smear tactics.

    Seriously, this country has WAY too many problems.

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. Mike, Providence

    First of all, I am voting for Ron Paul because both of these candidates are too shady for me, but with regards to Obama's grandmother, I have to agree she was collecting Federal and State benefits illegally and should be punished for it. maybe Obama can pay back the taxpayers for all the money she illegally obtained.

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. Linda

    I don't know about you guys but let me tell you...the Republicans are desperate for any dirt on Obama and they are a nasty bunch. Do you all want that 'nasty bunch' who resort to such low tactics in the White House?

    Leave the old lady alone. I wonder how many illegal immigrants John McCain employees in his seven houses?

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  20. Tom

    Since when is someone responsible for their estranged family members?

    Why has there not been an article on John McCain's character issues in regards to the way he treated on his 1st wife with Cindy for over a year....after she had appearance altering emergency surgeries due to the big car wreck she was in?

    What about John McCain's keynote address to Acorn?

    Where is the article about Sarah Palin's involvement with her husband's Alaskan secessionist group? She did speak at the meetings after all!

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  21. edwina

    Is this the October surprise? An aunt in Boston may, or may not be, an illegal immigrant. For those of you wanting 'prove' or even proof of his citizenship, factcheck.org posts a copy of his birth certificate. Funny, I have not seen amyone question anyone else's citizenship. By the way, where are Palin's medical records?

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  22. Becky Montgomery

    Cindy McCain has relatives she doesn't even claim. Once you go into this there will be other things popping up that are equally irrelevant. We don't know everything behind the family stories and therefore can't judge. This was on his father's side as I understand and he only has one memory of him, so this is not a big part of his life.

    Let it go. When people are moving out of foreclosed houses and looking for jobs, this is petty stuff.

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. Dave

    Are you people serious? You libs sure are very ignorant when it comes to your views. This totally reflects character of candidate. McCain in a close one....

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  24. Jeff

    Since when is it anyone's job to enforce laws upon their relatives? Isn't that taken care of by - well, hate to say it, but the government?

    So now thats out of the way, if she has broken any laws, enforce the laws. Just like I'm certain Joe McCain is being prosecuted for mis-using the 911 services in his city, right?

    HELLO AMERICA - lets concentrate on the important stuff and elect a team who can handle the roles they are seeking.

    both the incidents noted are bridges to nowhere!

    November 1, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. Tom Cicala

    OBOMA'S AUNT FROM KENYA LIVING IN GOVERNMENT HOUSING,AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEPORTED ,EXPECT PEOPLE FROM MANY NATIONS TO FLOOD AMERICA. AND BE PREPARED TO SUPPORT THEM ALL. YOU WILL HAVE LESS AS YOU SUPPORT THE WORLD .THIS IS THE OBOMA REALLITY..OF COURSE HE'LL PAY FOR IT WITH YOUR TAXES.HE WILL SIGN WHAT REED AND POLOSI PUT IN FRONT OF HIM ,AFTER HE FILLS IT WITH HIS OWN PORK AGENDA.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
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