November 1st, 2008
12:43 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama's aunt may be illegal immigrant

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Jimi NY

    Who cares? Everyone that works in McCain's houses are probably in this country illegally.
    Sarah Palin illegally abused her powers.
    Sarah Palin is a fool.
    John McCain is senile.
    Cindy McCain is scary.
    Tod "the first dude" Palin hangs with Terrorists.
    Joe the Plumber is an A _ _ hole.
    . . . the list goes on and on and on.



    November 1, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Cyanne

    Aunti is in the US illegally (not might be, but is) because her request for asylum was rejected 4 years ago. As an illegal alien, Aunti contributed $260 to Obama's campaign which means that Obama is accepting illegal contributions. Only US citizens or green card holders are legally permitted to give money to campaigns. Aunti is living in public housing which she is unqualified for because she is an illegal alien. Per the Obama campaign – Obama has no knowlege of her status, but believes that any and all appropriate laws be followed. No knowlege of her status? Yeah, right!

    The story has a lot to do with the election – let's start with the illegal campaign contributions and go from there . . .

    November 1, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Farhana from ATL

    I think we all know someone or the other who lives in the US illeagally...unfortunately, sometimes it is even a relative...but more often it is your gardener, your lawnmower, your mover, or your garbage collector. I am disappointed with CNN that they will make a deal out of something like this. Shame on you!

    November 1, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Thomas5

    Let's see, Obama says "I am my brother's keeper." (Except his brother is living in poverty in a foreign country.)

    His aunt is living in a slum here in America, possibly illegally.

    I guess it just depends on how Obama defines "brother" and "keeper".

    "He ain't my brother! He's heavy!"

    November 1, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. daJeffster

    My call for the boycott of this election also apply to CNN television viewers, as well as all self-respecting Democrats who care about their party and do not wish to see it represented by an idiot like Obama.

    November 1, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Tom for Obama in TN

    The media has hit a new low with this one. The only thing this story does is give the ignorant uneducated morons who still think Obama is not a citizen or that he is a terrorist something else to chew on.

    November 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. ali

    Republican nut jobs: In the article itself it even says it's not a crime but an admin issue. And in regards to obamas citizenship: the news organizations have FULLY investigated and concluded that he is a citizen, born in Hawaii. You just don't believe it but there's no more fact checkng to do. McCain was. 1 of 5 senators involved in the S& L scandal. That should scare you.

    November 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. The Maeven

    Yeppers, NO_Bama...

    Protect the Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers, and throw Auntie under the bus. Obama is a sleaze, and no one with a brain will waste their vote on this idiot. Smart man.. works for the Chicago mob in his spare time. He makes me sick.

    November 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. Kathy

    So what? My dad has five sisters. Am I responsible for their actions?

    November 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    If US Immigration told this ADULT woman that she could not stay in the country ... then why wasn't she escorted to the airport and put on a plane right then and there? You'd think by now that US Immigration would have figured out that the "honour system" wasn't working!

    This story is more telling about the completely flawed US federal government and its agencies than it is about a defiant elderly woman who just happens to be a relative of a profile individual.

    November 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. kate from Nebraska

    Is it only I, or do others find it strange that Obama has an aunt who wants to live in this country and participate in the democratic process and S. Palin has a husband who wants to secede from the country altogether?

    November 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. hahahaha

    this is as much an issue as McCain's brother calling 911 to complain about traffic then saying "f-you" to the operator when they called him on it.

    November 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. phil

    GOP strategy seems to be to run on innuendos. When will they start discussing policy? When will they say something that is true?

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


    November 1, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Palin has more experience than Obama

    If it had to deal with McCain it would be big news, but O backers are say no big deal. ROTFFLMOA at them!!!!!

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