AP: Obama Aunt From Kenya Living Illegally In US

Barack Obama's aunt, a Kenyan woman who has been quietly living in public housing in Boston, is in the United States illegally after an immigration judge rejected her request for asylum four years ago, The Associated Press has learned.

Zeituni Onyango (zay-TUHN on-YANG-oh), referred to as "Aunti Zeituni" in the Democratic presidential candidate's memoir, was instructed to leave the United States by a U.S. immigration judge who denied her asylum request, a person familiar with the matter told the AP late Friday. This person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one was authorized to discuss Onyango's case.

Onyango, 56, is Obama's late father's half-sister, the Obama campaign has confirmed. She is not a relative whom Obama, 47, has discussed in campaign appearances and, unlike Obama's father and his maternal grandmother, is not someone who has been part of the public discussion about his personal life.

The Obama campaign declined to comment late Friday night.

Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one a federal law enforcement official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release.

Onyango's refusal to leave the country would represent an administrative, noncriminal violation of immigration law, meaning such cases are handled outside the criminal court system. Estimates vary, but many experts believe there are more than 10 million such immigrants in the U.S.

According to Federal Election Commission documents filed by the Obama campaign, Onyango has contributed $260 to Obama over a period of time. Under federal election law, only U.S. citizens or green-card holders are legally permitted to give money to campaigns. Onyango, who listed her employer as the Boston Housing Authority, gave in small increments to the Obama campaign. Her latest contribution was $5 on Sept. 19.

The AP could not immediately reach Onyango for comment. When a reporter went to her home Friday night, no one answered the door. A neighbor said she was often not home on the weekend. Onyango did not immediately return telephone and written messages left at her home. It was unclear why her request for asylum was rejected in 2004.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Kelly Nantel, said the government does not comment on an individual's citizenship status or immigration case.

Onyango's case — coming to light just days before the presidential election — led to an unusual nationwide directive within Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requiring that any deportations before Tuesday's election be approved at least at the level of the agency's regional directors, the U.S. law enforcement official told the AP.

The unusual directive suggests that the administration is sensitive to the political implications of Onyango's case coming to light so close to the election.

The East African nation has been fractured in violence in recent years, including a period of two months of bloodshed after December 2007 that killed 1,500 people.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Saturday that he had no idea how Onyango might have qualified for public housing with a standing deportation order. He said he's not involved in the operations of the agency, even though he appoints the head, because it runs mainly on federal and state dollars.

William McGonagle, deputy director of the Boston Housing Authority, said when contacted: "I know nothing about it and I've got no comment."


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  • by tj Location: NC on Nov 5, 2008 at 07:07 AM
    I wonder which room he will give her? Maybe the Lincoln bedroom. I bet she suddenly becomes legal too. GOD HELP US!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Red State Location: Washington Co. on Nov 5, 2008 at 06:12 AM
    Well, at least when he screws up, no matter what is said about him, it can't be any worse than what has been said about Bush. So, I'm sure we won't hear any complaints when we criticize him and his policies, right? Just for a glimpse into the Dems plans, Schumer is already talking about bringing back the Fairness Doctrine (silencing talk radio) and Democrat Jim Moran from Virginia said "We've been guided by a Republican administration who believes in the simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it." Imagine that!
  • by HB Location: Greenville/Dudley, NC on Nov 5, 2008 at 06:01 AM
    OKAY ALL YOU OBAMA LOVERS. In four years, when we are all suffering I promise I will be the first one to say...I TOLD YALL SO!!!!!!!
  • by not surprised Location: ???? on Nov 5, 2008 at 05:46 AM
    She shouldn't have any problem staying in this country now.
  • by Devil Dog Location: New Bern on Nov 5, 2008 at 02:59 AM
    Congrats to OBAMA. Now he can fix what Barney Frank,Chris Dodd,Clinton,for repealing the GLASS-STEGAL ACT, and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac execs who caused the financial meltdown. What goes around comes around! Thank God---no more BUSH bashing.
  • by voter Location: nc on Nov 4, 2008 at 11:57 PM
    Now she can sleep in the White House.
  • by Anonymous Location: greenville,blvd on Nov 4, 2008 at 09:40 PM
    I know so many are happy and many are sad, but if you ever want to move your heart and soul to a place where heaven truly can be in your view, then we really need to put away our preduice and hatred for each other and listen to that hope in your heart. I believe that we all desire to see Jesus, but hatred will keep us from that. Just think about it and make your future decision, remember God knows your heart, not me.
  • by Obama 08 Iz Prez! on Nov 4, 2008 at 08:57 PM
    Obama won...give it up already! LOL
  • by P Location: SNOWHILL on Nov 4, 2008 at 05:17 PM
    IF IT WAS ONE OF OUR RELATIVE HERE ILLEGALLY THEY WOULD BE SENT BACK ON THE FAST TRAIN BUT U CAN SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING SHE IS STILL HERE. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT SOMEONE PAYING THEM OFF FOR IT?
  • by Bo Location: Deep Run on Nov 4, 2008 at 12:37 PM
    Yeah Demo, you and your like thinkers are the only one's that work hard. Are you really going to assume that the plurality of Americans that are voting for Obama are all lazy, unemployed, welfare bums? Over-generalize or assume too much? I am sure that you can not be that arrogant.
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