May 17th, 2010
01:25 PM ET

Judge rules Obama's aunt can stay in U.S.

President Barack Obama's Kenyan aunt can stay in the United States, a U.S. immigration judge has ruled, ending a more than six-year legal battle over her status.

Judge Leonard Shapiro made the decision Friday, court officials told CNN. Two government sources confirmed Monday that the ruling will give legal status to Zeituni Onyango, allowing her to remain in the country.

Onyango's attorneys plan to hold a press conference at 2 p.m. in Ohio.

Onyango, who is the half-sister of the president's late father, applied for political asylum in 2002 due to violence in her native Kenya. She was a legal resident of the United States at the time and had received a Social Security card a year earlier.

Onyango's asylum request was turned down in 2004, and she has been living in the United States illegally since then. She appealed the rejection of her request twice, but was denied each time and ordered to leave the country.

Judge Shapiro gave Onyango permission to remain in the United States in April 2009 while he considered her case.

In February, Onyango arrived at an immigration court in a wheelchair and testified before the judge for more than two hours, her representative, Amy Cohn, told CNN at the time. Two doctors, including her personal physician, also testified on her behalf. Onyango's medical condition was part of her legal defense against expulsion.

White House officials said during the appeals that Obama was staying out of the matter.

"The president believes that the case should run its ordinary course," the officials said.

Onyango's immigration status came to light in the final days of the 2008 presidential race.

soundoff (550 Responses)
  1. Don Quito

    Yea...the only people not illegal indians are those that settled this land (Indians).

    Seems off to Europe for everyone!!!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      Yep EVERYONE was from Europe. Big place that Europe, must cover 3/4 of the planet.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      Laughing...Thank you 🙂

      May 22, 2010 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      I have NO problem with immigrants. My G G grandparents were immigrants ... As long as it is done legally and everyone learns their new country language then great for them.

      But the level of ignorance on this site is shameful. All I have to say is "Not all Americans are created equal"

      May 22, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sgt Schultz

    I don't see what the big deal is. She was illegal, was about to be deported (way before her nephew was POTUS), appealed, and eventually got to stay. That's called following the rules and there are reasons why, even IF you are here illegally, you should be allowed to stay (persecution in home country, etc). The folks in AZ can't make the same arguments. They wanna stay no questions asked and not follow ANY rules, even the ones to address situations where you break the rules.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      asylum is for the purposes of granting a pardon to inidividuals from countries with extreme problems. Kenya does not have any extreme problems.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. foyelady

    Another thought...She was denied asylum in 2004, during the Cheney/Bush admin. (yes, Cheney/ Bush) Her nephew did not become President until Jan. 2009, about 5 years later. So obviously he was not the reason she was allowed to stay. If INS wanted to deport her, they would have picked her up on a warrent & sent her back.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      Yes and as we can see from all this nothing has gotten better with a new administration. Why would you feel good about this in any way?

      May 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sinmiedo68

    Oh what a surprise!!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. crusing

    Boy oh Boy, there are some serious racist on this site. Obama won the election fair and square, leave him out of this debate. If you live in a trailer, you probably are getting welfare or section 8 which I am paying for. Get a job and move out of the trailer.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      just because an individual is on welfare or section 8 does not make them less of a person than you. i have a retired doctor who devoted her life working at a medical clinic for the poor for 40 years in a remote area of the US and made less than 45,000 per year. At 71, she's living on housing assistance without any income except social security. she doesn't regret her decision to work for the poor. it just shows how narrow-minded and judgmental many of you are

      May 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      wutz wrongg wif ma traler?? I keeps iT cleen. Know 1 on da welfair heere. Sthu ur mouf.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Don Quito

    She should seriously be dragged outsided by horses with ropes tied to her legs and stoned to an inch of her life.

    After that we should all go up and spit in her mouth and kick her in the teeth. Then we should take her wheel chair and roll her down a giant hill with razor wire at the end. After that pour salt and alcohol in her wounds. Then we could cut her hair and make little Chia Dolls out of it. After that we pinch her toes really hard. Lastly we put her on a cross like our hero and do God's Will!!!! Happy Prayers Everyone. See you down below!!!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Maria

    I'm a 3rd generation Hispanic American, and I say SHIP ALL THESE DAMN ILLEGALS BACK TO THEIR SORRY COUNTRIES! We need to start jamming ICE phone lines and email NOW and report all illegals from every city, state, and every hole in the wall where they're holding up their finger and laughing at us American citizens bec we are SO stupid we haven't revolted yet. Take action now bec current thugs in power won't lift a finger to help hard-working US citizens. Ya Basta!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Balls Deep

    This country was built by immigrants. Get over it all! Its up to our government to get it right, its not the illegals fault. If you lived in one of these god awful countries and couldnt feed your family, you would do the same. Take the risk and be able to feed your family. these ppl would rather stay in their country that is more aesthically pleasing to the eye, but have no choice but to come here in order to make a living.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sinmiedo68

    Now Obama has to keep her out of Arizona!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alf

      And out of Mexico because they will deport her in a NY second.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. yocheved

    Any excuse to criticize Obama, usually by people who never read or research the facts. Watching the hyper irrational criticism of Obama, who inherited a Bush mess, is very sad to see. There is nothing that this first, bi-racial man, who identifies himself as being Black, President can do right. The criticizers do not want to see the incredible burden he inherited and how brilliantly he has managed it. He made it seem so simple that people missed how close America came to collapsing financially.

    Along with dealing with the financial melt down he managed to pass a historical piece of health legislation to better the lives of the average american. Something no President has been able to do in the past 60 years.

    I am not saying Obama should not be criticized, what I am saying is that most of the criticism is irrational and and without a factual basis.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • gia

      Well said!

      May 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      God man what do facts have to do with a conspiracy theory!!!

      May 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Diane

    Did President Kennedy bring over illegal relatives from Ireland? NO!

    What do you expect from a man who has no business in the White House and yet ran for President?
    He is a fraud and an outlaw. No birth certificate yet?

    May 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • gia

      Let me guess...tea party member?

      May 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      "What do you expect from a man who has no business in the White House and yet ran for President?" George Bush is GONE. We elected a new guy in 2008. Pay attention.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. aughra

    "Onyango's asylum request was turned down in 2004, and she has been living in the United States illegally since then. She appealed the rejection of her request twice, but was denied each time and ordered to leave the country."

    Skewed much? Whoever's writing this story needs to check out immigration law before writing an article about it. You're not living in the country illegally if you are appealing your ruling. Deportation orders are typically held until all appeals are complete. Sounds like the writer is trying muckraking and rabble-rousing rather than checking the facts, so I'd hardly call him/her a reporter.

    And because she's Obama's family, she definately qualifies for political asylum in the U.S.–if not in 2004, she certainly does now. Can you imagine what the Taliban in Kenya would make of her? Besides dead, I mean??

    May 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • aughra

      Sorry, that should have been Al Qaida, not Taliban. No sign the Taliban has gotten that far yet. Yet.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alf

      Like it or not, she is the Presidentes aunt. No one yet in the White House has tackled the immigration hot potato, but here in Mexico we want to keep the Norte Americano expat numbers low. So when coming over the border, bring cash or you will be deported.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Don Quito

    She should seriously be dragged outsided by horses with ropes tied to her legs and stoned to an inch of her life.

    After that we should all go up and spit in her mouth and kick her in the teeth. Then we should take her wheel chair and roll her down a giant hill with razor wire at the end. After that pour salt and alcohol in her wounds. Then we could cut her hair and make little Chia Dolls out of it. After that we pinch her toes really hard. Lastly we put her on a cross like our hero and do God's Will!!!! Happy Prayers Everyone. See you down below!!!!! I wish the Indians shipped us back then this land would actually be the "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" Now it just "Land of the Hate, and Home of the paranoid"

    May 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. D450

    He did not become President until January 2009. She has been fighting to stay in the U.S. since 2002, and she is not the only one. Others have been allowed to stay, as each case that warrants review is looked at on an individual basis. Unfortunately those of you who scream about illegals don't even know the law. What a pity.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      she has been fighting and fighting... but the decision was made after obama took office. so a demand for the release of all correspondences between the white house, the lawyer representing his aunt, and the courts should be released under the freedom of information act.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      Why do any of them get more than one appeal??? Regardless of who is in the White House.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. me

    i for one think "what if this were my brother". You know it is!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
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