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. Wake up People!

    Proof positive he WAS born in Kenya!!!!

    Silly wabbits, tricks are for kids!

    September 6, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  2. FHTEX

    It's way beyond time to write to your congressman ... they don't care what you think. If we can redistrict them so they l almost all run in competitive districts and if every senator or congressman who votes for the Syria resolution faces opposition within his or her own party in primaries, then they will start to run scared.

    September 6, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Diogenes

    Sounds like a whistle-blower to me

    September 6, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. anon

    I don't like Obama in the least bit. I disagree with him on just about everything, but on this, who cares? This isn't really about him at all and it's not even his fault.

    Even if he used his position to muscle favor for his aunt, so what? I'd do the exact same thing. If you don't at least look out for your family and are willing to pull some strings for them, then what the h#ll good are you?

    September 6, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. Name willard

    I mocked out of presdient obama that amercian people are stupaid use fraud check scam from afrcian amercian that people are cheat support obama by 2008 from fraud vote

    September 6, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    If you don't at least look out for your family and are willing to pull some strings for them, then what the h#ll good are you?
    You made me laugh out loud with your comment.
    Thanks I needed that.

    September 6, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Menicy

    So wait let me get this right. First he says that he didn't mean to spill the beans... but then he says that the people had a right to know... which one is it?
    He told the reporter to make sure that the reporter told the world.
    Oh well. That means absolutely nothing in the end. Half of Obama's family is from Kenya, the other half the US. Unlike the idiots that don't understand Geography, being born in Hawaii the 50th state in the US, means he's a US Citizen. #SitDown

    September 6, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. Marguerite

    oh big deal...we've got much bigger problems now.

    September 6, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Big_D

    I would hope this standard of breaking the rules will continue. God knows we would have loved to expose the no bid contracts Cheney put in place. I guess people were afraid the GOP would kill them.

    September 6, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. dd1951

    funny how they are able to trace that but not who instructed the irs to target groups, anything about Benghazi or anything about fast and furious, etc, etc. I guess it's more important to find information about the president's aunt's informer than these less important issues.

    September 6, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. RoseSelavy

    The American public has a right to know exactly? The American people have a right to know a lot about a Presidential candidate, maybe they should know a few things about their family. But how far do you go with this and into what areas of salacious interest?

    September 6, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. w l jones

    England is in Europe but the Queen is the head of all English country ... so get over of it.

    September 6, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. Larry L

    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."
    No political motivations? What was the motivation? The liar is trying to stay out of jail.

    September 6, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. Bob 18411

    The Question is not about Obama's relative, I too know of some Polish relatives, living and working in NYC, and paying their taxes, who came on a visa 40 years ago and have never left. The fact is that an official in the Immigration office disclosed government information to non-government individuals, who had no government reason for knowing the information. None of us knows the entire story about the aunt, or if she became a citizen, or returned to wherever, and I certainly would not want information on illegal relatives being advertised in the paper, or my tax return, or whatever...

    September 6, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Dorothy

    BigD, I think the problem is he divulged personal information that's covered under privacy laws. For example, I cannot discuss a student's grades with anyone buy the student and the student's parents/ guardians – not even grandparents, unless given permission or unless they are the guardians. It takes me forever if I see a new doctor, because if I list all my close family members as people who can be informed of my condition. He violated privacy laws.

    September 6, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. Andrea

    How is that proof positive that he was born in Kenya. Who don't people get over this.

    September 6, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Don

    There is nothing better for those that claim the G O P as the only political party. This is something else for them to chew on in the media for another 3 years. For what purpose. What does it matter. I suppose it for those that still think the president is not a citizen of the United States. Wake up you jerks . The G O P has your Brain in its control. I hope you do not call your local Representative for permission to use the bathroom as well.

    September 6, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  18. Jesse

    Dorothy? What about all the teachers who post grades with peoples name next to them. No privacy laws there.

    This guy will get an unappealable suspension which stays on his SF-50 forever meaning his career is over.

    September 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. Owl Creek Observer

    And yet many consider Ms. Bradley Manning a hero for leaking information that actually WAS highly classified, not just the illegal status of Obama's relative. The ICE employee should get a medal.

    September 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Fred Evil

    "I had no political motivations"
    Oh goodness no of course you didn't, you just outed her because she was next on your list of 25,000,000 illegals to out, right?

    September 6, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Wake up People!

    I was being facetious(sarcastic)!!!

    September 6, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. Art

    Why is this even a story...what a waste

    September 6, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. The Other Bob


    We dont even know where Obama is even born. His birth certificate had dozens of mistakes on it and appeared as if it was printed this morning.
    Another birther crawls out from under his rock. Please go away and take Donald "Bad Hair Day" Trump with you.

    September 6, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. TxCentrist

    One week before the election and he had no political motivations. What a moron to think anyone would buy that. It's funny how jerks like that grow a conscience after they get caught.

    September 6, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. Pam from Iowa

    who cares about this?????

    September 6, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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