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. ni6180

    Just more proof that Obama and the liberals have no idea what the illegal part of illegal immagartion means

    May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    You bet there was a back room deal made on this piece of crap. The deal was: she could stay in the US, but had to stop saying BO was born in Keyna.
    Wish the article would have indicated, on what grounds the judge made this ruling. So, the other judges were wrong?–ha

    May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. terry in dallas

    For all you people who say that we are make up of immigrants.. Well, we are full, but if you want to split your share with them then step forward and donate.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. depression

    This is the worst joke i've ever seen in my entire life .. she was ordered to leave our country by immgration TWICE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What is there to dispute??????????????????????????? oh well GOOD for mass , you can continue to pay for her housing in your housing projects , along with her food stamps and from what i hear , quite costly medical bills ... you DESERVE her for being weak on illgeal immigration ... i only hope the other illegals hear how good she has it up there and joins her!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Duh!

    Oh please! Some of your are so naive! Of course it's going to matter that she's related to the PRESIDENT, to think otherwise would be foolish.

    If you bigots want her out that bad sent her to Aribama (AZ). Even if she's a born citizen, she has far too much melanin in her body to be seen as such by the populace. They'd be more than happy to overturn a judicial decision and deport her.

    I swear, the AZ heat has cooked people's brains inside their skulls...that is if they were even there to begin with!

    May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Postingboy

      Are you so drunk on your own arrogance that you really believe the anger is about her color? If you work full time and pay taxes, a portion of YOUR money went to support this woman who defied legal orders and remained in the country. I don't know about you, but I don't appreciate slaving so the government can give the money to law breakers. To see her rewarded with citizenship so she can now be an American on welfare as opposed to a Kenyan on welfare doesn't sit right for good reason.

      May 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. buffy

    This is all nonsense. Do they (the judicial system) think that we americans are all dumb and dont see what happens behind closed doors. Of course Obama had something to do with this ruling. If Obama wasnt president this lady would have been shipped out years ago, or behind bars for being here ilegally for as long as she has. This is another way for our government to slap us in the face. I am in disbelief that anyone with a head on their shoulders is going to believe that Obama didnt have a say in this matter.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris


      You mean something like how Bush knowingly lied to the American people to attack Iraq and was never punished for it? He spent trillions of taxpayer dollars after making up 'evidence' to invade and occupy another country and the judicial system never gave Americans any kind of justice for that.
      Do 2 wrongs make a right? Never.
      But if you want to start complaining about the judicial system and favoritism with presidents, you can go back a lot further than Obama.
      But of course you won't because then you couldn't continue to demonize the guy, which is the only thing the right can really do.
      As Americans, we're asked to respect the judicial system because if that's broken, our entire country is broken. And since Bush was protected for all the lies and blunders he made by our laws, then Obama should enjoy the same treatment Bush received when it comes to the law.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Barb

    Why am I not surprised????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kamal

      because you're drunk.

      May 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rick

    figures, sigh, they need to deport her and obama much of this as americans are we going to take before we rise up and do something?

    May 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      This is hilarious.
      So you're more of an American than Obama because why? You're white?
      I'm glad 'your' America will never see the light of day. This country was designed to be a melting pot of different people and cultures. You've taken it right from legal (with Obama) to somehow feeling like you're 'more' of an American than people who are different from you.
      How do we know that YOU are legal, Rick? Because you've got an 'American' name? Maybe your skin is white?

      I'd rather see all of the uneducated people from these comments who can barely write proper english deported.
      It's laughable to me who consider themselves to be 'true' Americans when have of the illegals can speak and write better english than some of the average 'Americans' who are legal.

      May 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      it is half, not have. Ironic isn't it!

      May 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Postingboy

      So...Chris thinks its "hilarious" that working Americans are forced to slave so the government can give a monthly check and benefits to people in the country illegally. You need to stop laughing, pal.

      May 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HernandezUSA

    What did the Administration hold over the judges head........??

    Any other illegal would have been sent home.......already

    May 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chris

    Glad to see the classy right has (not) been brushing up on their grammar and spelling skills.
    Stay classy, republicans!
    If you respect this country at all, then you have to respect the legal process we've developed and the judges that determine right from wrong.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kamal

      i agree wholeheartedly!!!!

      May 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      i agre alsu, boy i wush i wuldv payed atenchun at skul so i culd spul.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      So only the Judges in this country have the ability to determine right from wrong, then why do we need congress or the president? Lets see congress enacts the laws then interpret and the president signs them into law... And the common person, yourself included has no idea what the difference between right and wrong is?

      May 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • LG in TX

      "Respect"? Did she show respect for the previous judges rulings when she was asked to leave the country TWICE? No she didn't, which makes her choice to remain in the country ILLEGAL. If you have not lived in an area that is directly affected by a steady stream of illegals making their way into this country daily, than you really have no idea. Example... My husband, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, applied for a job at Walmart, he was turned down because he doesn't speak Spanish. Explain to me how a person who is applying for a position within the US and doesn't speak another language, other than English, cannot get a job due to not speaking another language. We as a Nation need to come up with a better law for immigration. I am not saying that I want to have a huge wall built to keep everyone out BUT I am just saying that those that want to come here, need to go through all the legal processes as it would take if I wanted to live in another country. And "respect" the decision that is provided them.
      It's not racist, I'm just angry at the whole situation.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. phillip Marlowe

    Hey if being president cant get a judge to rule in favor of your grandma, why be president?

    May 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KWDragon

    I am glad Obama stayed out of it, as he should have done. That being said, if you can't use your leverage as the President of the United States once in a while, what good is the position?

    If it was my aunt, I would have stepped in. You probably would have, too. That's why we are not politicians.

    Besides, my mom would make a ruckus if I let someone deport her sister, and my grandmother would never speak to me again.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • DownTownBrown

      Whoa. Common sense isn't allowed here. GET HIM!!!!

      May 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      first of all, that is a bizzare name.

      second of all....stop wasting electrons, no one cares what you think.

      May 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • KWDragon


      And your point would be?

      And I am guessing that you are a Native American because otherwise, you are from a family of immigrants. So, to which tribe do we owe the honor of your presence on this forum?

      May 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      one half SIOUX, remember us. We were slaughtered on the plains, lied to, stolen from, rounded up, exterminated, and then finally impoverished.

      Thank you.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • KWDragon

      Half? Okay, so the immigrants on the other side, they are the ones you would deport?

      May 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. uhmm

    Seriously.....there's 15 million plus illegal immigrants sucking off the fatness of the government...and you all flip out because ONE person got political asylum and happens to be distantly related to the president. At least she actually tried to do it correctly instead of just hopping a fence, popping out a baby, and sucking off of welfare programs. No where in this stroy does it ever say she was on welfare. In fact it specifically says "She was a legal resident of the United States at the time and had received a Social Security card a year earlier." The only thing she ever did wrong was staying after they told her to go. Perhaps she should be made to pay some sort of fine for that, but in the grand scheme of people jumping the border and squatting, she is at the extreme bottom of the totem pole.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Postingboy

      Government housing = Low rent for the tenant with the balance picked up taxpayers. Taxpayers footing the bill = welfare.

      May 17, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    This is a slap in the face for all of us who have had to go through the legal route. During the time she was illegal, she should have been deported until her case was settled.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • DownTownBrown

      Yeah Tom is right, all those troubles his poor-upper-middle-class family went through to get here are being laughed at. I mean ONLY 6 years and she's in? Pah! Should be twice as long, THEN it's fair, right Tommy?

      May 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. larry wi

    At least this woman wasn't trying to get away with anything, she went thru the legal system, not at all like the illegal Mexicans in AZ.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
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