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. FredInIT

    I don't care if she was legal or illegal. If her nephew was a candidate for president or dog catcher. What the employee did was against their own department's policy. As such, he should be sacked.

    Let's look a this from another avenue. What if it was a DHHS employee that 'leaked' that she had a terminal illness (e.g. n-stage cancer) due to some sort of record that they had? Should the employee be lauded for the disclosure or not?

    It's information irrelevant to the campaign. Just mindless fodder for the opposing party. And, as Obama was not in office a the time he would have had absolutely no ability to influence the outcome of this. Could Obama have worked with ICE after election to have given her asylum? Sure. But that's a different issue and one unrelated to this.

    September 6, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Matt

    You people don't seem to get it. People with access to certain information have a duty not to reveal it. This has nothing to do with the truth–do you want your doctor releasing your medical records to the press? That information is "the truth," is it not? If you don't punish those that wrongfully and unlawfully disclose protected information because it is "the truth," than say goodbye to any semblance of privacy you think you have left.

    September 6, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. InFormed

    Soo, This is OK but Snowden leaking NSA details is not??? Seriously.

    September 6, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. t

    ..Birther/ Trumpturds are SOOOOOOOOO over.......

    September 6, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. SheilaBear

    Hogan's Goat, I agree. "'No doubt about it. I had no political motivations.' That is hilarious. I guess his motivations had to be racist if they weren't political."

    September 6, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. mrl

    WHY should someone's ILLEGAL status be confidential in the first place. I think it is perfectly acceptable to call out ANY illegal person's status... they are ILLEGALLY here!

    September 6, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    @rick, I don't believe our President is telling anyone whom to marry or what to do with their bodies or preventing US citizens from votin, among other civil an personal rights they want to take way.I think that's your rethugs/teatrolls..

    September 6, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. asking the obvious

    OK, so this person is in this country illegally. That information should be public information the minute it is determined. Illegals and criminals should have NO expectation of privacy with regards to their illegal and/or criminal activities. THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW about the level of criminal or illegal activity in this country.

    September 6, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. StraightIndependent

    And we were still too stupid not to elect him.........

    He'll fix our relationship with the world! Ugh NO Read any news report
    He'll protect our freedoms! Ugh NO – please refer to NSA and IRS please
    He'll make the gov't transparent! Ugh NO – 'you have to vote for it to see what's inside' (quote of the decade)
    He'll end the wars! Ugh NO – winding down one while starting more.....
    He'll close Guant. Bay! Ugh NO – Spending millions on facility each year.

    Just another slimy politician. We voted for him to prove we weren't racist and yet he stands before the cameras on multiple occasions to add gas to the race fire!

    September 6, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. just saying

    why isn't the list of all known illegal aliens in this country printed and posted in the post office??? why is it not printed in the newspapers??? why are we helping them hide their illegal activity, aka being in this country.

    this guy should get a medal and be promoted!!!

    September 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. Renee

    How many of you Obama haters control the status of ALL your relatives. Hell, if she was an illegal at the time, she was probably employed by a repub, since that seems to be the standard from the "other" side. And Obama with his feet on the desk in the oval office...It is HIS office!!! done and DONE.

    September 6, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. dsangiovanni

    They should fire him..

    September 6, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Jim

    Well, if they handle this the way they did people who messed up in the Fast & Furious fiasco, I gues sthey should give this guy a promotion.

    September 6, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. Vickie Holbrook

    Exactly, if you are in this country illegally all you should be afforded are "basic human rights". Obummer thinks he's royalty, above the law and can do anything that he wants to do. Somebody needs to remind him that he works FOR the people, not the other way around. Can't wait till he's gone...

    September 6, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Bob

    So I'm not sure why someone's status as a illegal alien would confidential in anyway. They have no right to be here as they are here illegally. Presidents aunt or not, she should be deported.

    September 6, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. butterfly29

    O-kay. Let me get this in some kind of order. First, people travel to a state, illegally, to start a better life AND there are the ones whom have a whole other agenda. Either way, there are laws and regulations to abide in!!! Come on people!!!! You get mad and rally against injustices " BUT" following the law, procedures and processes in order to Legally obtain citizenship can't be accomplished because there should be a" revolving door" for an enemy to walk proudly on in, with no consequences because there's people wanting to relocate, have No consequences for BREAKING NATIONAL- STATE LAWS, that are in place for reasons people!!!!!! To keep the land safe from terrorist and enemies that would love to see us all suffer and perish for their beliefs and doctrines taught to them while still in the womb of the mother!!!!! Everyone has laws to abide in and if not, I would relocate where there is such a place.

    September 6, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. sly

    There is clear evidence that President Obama is an illegal alien, with many members of NASA pinpointing the space shuttles return from an early Mars mission as the time he entered our atmosphere.

    This is a critical issue for us Tea Party members. Stand up for America! Barack Obama is an alien, and we should continue to stop all action in Washington until we sort this out.

    Incredible the lies Democrats put out there to deny what is clearly proven by scientists.

    September 6, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. MrsJAZ

    Well if Obama and his Aunt did things legally the first time, then these things wouldn't have to be "leaked". There is no dirty laundry if you do things honestly to begin with. Of course the immigration judge let her stay. What choice do you have when Obama is your boss !

    September 6, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. nennie

    Hey, not only was she here illegally, she was on Section 8 housing, receiving food stamps, and MassHealth for free medical (oh, that's right, the rest of us p ay for this!...and when exposed she became extremely arrogant about the whole deal. You go through the right process and then become a citizen. Don't live here under the radar and the be defensive when you are caught. She never should have been granted citizenship. Nor should his uncle who was doing the same thing in Framingham and was caught for oui!!

    September 6, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Hogan's Goat

    "if it was a Republicans aunt WATCH OUT!! " Ted Cruz has a bunch of relatives in Cuba who are Communists. Yawn, snore. Mitt Romney's aunts and uncles are Mexicans. Wake me up when that matters, ok?

    September 6, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Ralph

    People are nothing but cry baby's. When one side does something, the other side cries about. When the other side does something, they cry about. When the both do the same thing, at different times, they all cry about. People just complain to hear their voices or see the letters form on the computer screen. It's sickening to watch people who never grew up. Read it or watch it on TV and get over it. If you want to do something about what you see as bad, do something about it, don't just complain about it.

    September 6, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. Mary

    No this is not proof he was born in Kenya, it is proof his aunt was from Kenya. He was born to an American (white) mother in Hawaii. This ICE employee thought if he released the information it would affect the election, that's why he released it the week before the voting in November.

    September 6, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. Nothing At All

    Sounds like a rank and file Republican.

    September 6, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. DustyOnes

    No rumor, it was the truth.

    September 6, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. jake

    Dems support whistleblowers if it's against the GOP, not their own guys. If it was negative info against the GOP, reporters would go to jail rather than reveal their source.

    September 6, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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