Report pins ICE employee for leak of Obama aunt's immigration status
September 5th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
9 years 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. don in albuquerque

    Fire his butt.

    September 5, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. onlyfacts

    His father wasn't born in this country! He wasn't born in this country! No telling what relatives immigration status is! He has a non white name and even though he is biracial he doesn't look it! I bet you repubs really hate...Ted Cruz!

    September 5, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. boungiorno

    believe half of what you hear; and All of what you see!

    September 5, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. shawn

    What, no anti-Obama rants? Will someone please start this off...I don't have the energy right now!

    September 5, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Craig

    "I had no political motivations." If you're buying that then you should expect a visit from the tooth fairy, holding hands with Santa Claus and riding on the back of a dinosaur being led by a unicorn. RIGHT!

    September 5, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. Dave

    Ya, right. Obama will not take punitive action against the employee? You have to be kidding. Why else was she allowed to stay here, her good looks? It sure wasn't good behavior and abiding by our laws.

    September 5, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. Elliott Carlin

    All they had to do is tap her Obama-Phone or check her email at the library. Give this employee a medal.

    September 5, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  8. Lisa

    Another racist republican!

    September 5, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  9. marty

    The employees actual crime....he leaked information about a democrat.

    September 5, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  10. rep

    "I had no political motivations."
    "...the American public has a right to know that."

    If that's not a political motivation, what is it?

    September 5, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  11. pazke

    'I had no political motivations' – riiiight.

    September 5, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  12. Joe Plummer

    Error in judgement? Misusing a position within the Federal government to illegally release someone's personal information (even if it was not politically motivated, which it clearly was), and then lying and trying to cover it up, is not a simple error in judgement. That is a crime that should have been prosecuted as such and should have resulted in the ICE employee being fired after as soon as the investigation concluded. How could anyone argue otherwise?

    September 5, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  13. laserw

    What a crock – no such energy put in Benghazi, IRS, Fast and Furious leaks. The corruption of this administration in picking what it will and won't investigate is amazing.

    September 5, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. Zwei Stein

    They are sending him for an extended, all-expense-paid trip to beautiful GITMO.

    September 5, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. Pablo

    This should not even be a leak. It should be information available to anyone. There should be nothing secret about immigration status. She should not be given preferential treatment, period.

    September 5, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  16. LilMuse

    His aunt was given asylum and continues to live in public housing.
    What ever happened to the uncle? The one that hit a cop car, got a DUI and that's how we found out about his status. What is wrong with these people?

    September 5, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  17. Belseth

    What do you want to bet he's a right wing conservative.

    September 5, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  18. Barry Hussein

    Who's really here legally in that family considering they all grew up either in Jakarta or Africa.

    September 5, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  19. The law

    And Massachusetts took her in,gave her a place to live. She lives the life off the mass taxpayers. Thanks to her some poor/low income family lost a chance at a place to live, still on the street I guess..

    September 5, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  20. Eric B

    This man should be fired i dont care if you support or hate obama abuse of a position for political gain is unacceptable for governmental employee

    September 5, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  21. mirageseekr

    How dare he say anything about Dear Leader's Families immigration status, things like that only apply to "workers". And we all know the transparency of this administration.

    September 5, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  22. Richard Miller

    Jeez, and we put Manning away for how many years?.....this guy ought to see time on the Mexican border in Arizona in the summer......the tattle tail looking for a lucrative book deal?

    September 5, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  23. Andrew

    What do you want to bet this man in uniform doesn't get the Bradley Manning Treatment?

    September 5, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  24. Kris Noss

    Well if this was not politically motivated or targeting a certain political party, then the tea party has nothing to complain about the IRS.

    September 5, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  25. Lone wolf

    Come on, the employee purposely broke the rules out of political spite and has been telling lies ever since. He or she had hoped to embarrass a political candidate he was against. Hopefully he/she paid for this.

    September 5, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
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