Report pins ICE employee for leak of Obama aunt's immigration status
September 5th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
11 months ago

Report pins ICE employee for leak of Obama aunt's immigration status

Washington (CNN) – Shortly before the 2008 presidential election, the illegal immigration status of then-candidate Barack Obama's aunt was leaked to an Associated Press reporter. The leaker of that information did not go unidentified, a newly released investigative report shows.

Under questioning, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement employee admitted telling a "rumor" to a reporter about Zeituni Onyango's immigration status – she had been denied asylum at the time and was facing deportation.

An immigration judge would eventually give her legal status allowing her to stay in the United States.

The inquiry found the ICE employee called the reporter on October 31, 2008, only a week before the election won by Obama. The employee's name was redacted from the report.

The investigation found that the employee disclosed an individual's immigration information without authorization, attempted to mislead investigators that his contact with the reporter was only social, and that he misused government property in leaking the information.

The report was completed August 10, 2010, but was released recently following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Huffington Post.

The employee would tell investigators that his leak was an "error in judgment" and had not considered the release of the information to be official – despite having done so from a government phone.

According to the report, the employee said: "I mean in retrospect it was an error in judgment. No doubt about it. I had no political motivations."

He thought of his disclosure of the information that "the American public has a right to know that."

The report gives no indication of any disciplinary measures conducted as a result.

Contacted for comment on Thursday, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen would only comment about the department's policy.

"ICE does not comment on whether management action is taken as a result of an investigation done by OPR unless the resolution results in some kind of criminal or other public administrative action," Christensen said.

Read the detailed report here.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. rude

    Whatever it takes to keep the WHite House white.

    September 5, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. 1968billsfan

    So what was the situation? Why was she given legal status to stay in the US after having previously been denied asylum?

    September 5, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  3. DocHollywood

    "I had no political motivations."

    Right...lol

    September 5, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  4. Crockett

    What if every illegal immigrant could somehow claim to have a relative in the White House? No need for immigration reform in that case. Just let the judge grant legal status. Presto chango!

    September 5, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  5. ryan

    Of course she was illegal and allowed to stay. Obama probably called personally to the judge to make sure she was granted asylum. Anyone else would be held in detention then deported.

    September 5, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  6. just myself

    Now isn't that interesting....Our government can't seem to quickly track down bad guys (in ref to gov't employess who skrewed the pooch in regards to IRS, Benghazi, NSA) but in this case-voila' –and we get a low level employee WHO WON'T even REALLY be disciplined because this SAME GOVERMENT has protections in place for him to keep his job. Please. Tell me where I am wrong?....

    September 5, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  7. straighttalk

    Great! OBAMA'S Aunt was in the USA illegally but because the he was voted President his aunt was allowed to stay in the USA. This is incredible, what a hypocrite. I used to think he was a decent guy but now I am changing my mind.

    September 5, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  8. edpeters101

    Can't wait for Congress to investigate this and implicate the POTUS as doing something wrong. All the other investigations have turned up nothing, so Darrell Issa has got to come up with some other BS to keep things stirred up!

    September 5, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  9. smdahl

    No mention of previous reports that she lived in public housing for years and received disability checks near $700/month as an illegal immigrant I'm all for immigrant amnesty but not as a privilege of the rich and powerful.

    September 5, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  10. luvUamerica

    Imagine the kind of discipline these ICE officers have? I wonder what else they are capable of? They don't seem to know the difference between right and wrong....

    September 5, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Amy

    Guilty by association is what is done in North Korea. I thought this was the US.

    September 5, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  12. too many self righteous

    breaking the law to do good is psychopathic behaviour

    September 6, 2013 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  13. Linda

    Sure he had no "political motivations." LOL

    September 6, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  14. GIANCARLO

    It is amazing how heads never roll on anything these idiot government employees do.

    September 6, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  15. Jackie Rawlings

    It started in 2008 and continues as first try to get Obama out and McCain in. Journalist had already got use to leaks Novak leaked and printed the name of a Covert Secret CIA Agents name. As 2/3 of CIA workers resigned in fear they would be next Bush had open hiring for intelligence and Cheney's surveillance/wiretap program. The enemies were watching and cheering as the door open. Now 10 years later we have hundreds of spies working in the Government classified departments and Snowden is just one, Wikileak and others learned to use the social network to draw in the target. Manning fell then we learned Snowden fell. Others will soon come to light. China and Russia along with Al Qaeda and others have all the information they need. Snowden thought he had something to offer Russia/China but they already knew the information he had. America's worse enemy is Americans.

    September 6, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  16. UriNation

    Here we go again...where's my birth certificate?

    September 6, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  17. baffled

    So Snowden is a traitor because he thought the public had a right to know but this guy gets a slap on the wrist for technically the same thing........

    September 6, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  18. jerome

    2 years of investigation to find out who leaked an embarrassing fact about Obama. Your tax dollars at work.

    September 6, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  19. DixonIV

    "No political motivation", whatever.

    September 6, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  20. PHinMiami

    In most industries (ICE employees always), it's grounds for dismissal.

    Why is this person still working? . . . I can only guess, he got a pass from the right.

    September 6, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  21. just myself

    Now isn't that interesting....Our government can't seem to quickly track down bad guys (in ref to gov't employess who may have made really bad mistakes ( in regards to IRS, Benghazi, NSA) but in this case-voila' –and we get a low level employee WHO WON'T even REALLY be disciplined because this SAME GOVERMENT has protections in place for him to keep his job. Please. Tell me where I am wrong?....

    September 6, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  22. Imhem

    Whistle blower informs us Obama's aunt is an illegal alien who then gets special treatment because she's related to Obama. So what's new and what's the story??

    September 6, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  23. Deej59

    Wow, the aunt business was about 300 smear campaigns ago, so I'd forgotten all about it.

    September 6, 2013 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  24. Thom

    Most definitely a Republican trying to make Obama look bad at the time............

    September 6, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  25. Don Soetoro

    You don't mess with the Obamas and live to tell tales about it

    September 6, 2013 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
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