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. Griffy-Griff

    The President stayed out of it, but I'm sure his name and position had some influence on the decision. But I've seen many people from war-torn African countries get granted asylum and they were not kin to any powerful political figure. I am going to assume that everything was on the up and up. But as we always say; "It's good to know some low people in high places."

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

    Stop planting Marijuana in your yard, for all of our sakes. What are you talking about? How would my planting a food bearing tree stop hunger in the world? Not enough food is not/has never been the problem, the problem is the political climates in countries of hunger preventing the food aid from being distributed, ie food as a weapon of the warlords. aside from this obvious fact is that this is a post about Obama's aunt. It sounds to me like she has won her appeal to live in the US, end of story. Everything is not a political football to be kicked about.

    I am a staunch republican, evry issue is not us vs. them, our political climate needs to harken back to days gone by when it served as an area of betterment for all, not the mudslinging and dragging through the muck that it has become. Idiots sling mud, because they cannot form a valid opinion nor argument.

    GROW UP.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. thetruth2010

    Arizona wanted to really do something about the immigration issue, they go after the corporations are looking for cheap slave labor to do work. These people coming over the border are not taking jobs away from Americans.. Its the american corporations who are giving your jobs away to people from mexico. You should be going after them AZ!!!, oh wait cant the corporations support the tea party and the republican party. Cant do that. Lets play it easy and attack the poor people from mexico.. Cant take on the big corporation handing our jobs to them oh no.. they support our conservative party. Shame on you tea baggers!

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

      You do make a point. The U.S needed cheap labour because its citizens refused to do such menial and degrading work. now they have a problem where they have too much of a good thing going.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      They are... but you would have known that if your read the law.
      There's more to SB 1070 than just going after the illegals.
      Pages 6 through 14 is all about going after the employer.
      Too bad the press doesn't cover that angle of it.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ken

    Have any of you who are accusing Obama of having a hand in this checked out the IJ who let her stay? He was appointed in 1990 by George HW Bush and has a 67% denial record in asylum cases, compared to a national rate of 57.3%. Maybe she's staying because she met the criteria for asylum and it shoud never have been deinied in the first place?

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


      May 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gia

    Blame Obama even though he has NOTHING to do with her case.

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

      blame bush, it was his fault ;-}

      May 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • DownTownBrown

      It was Bush's fault. He appointed this judge, genious.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      down town brown,
      that was the joke but glad you got it! Put down the is bad for you.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. FJS

    Im really happy that she won her battle. Good For Her.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Another Dave

    Amazing....In any other country she would have been detained, deported, imprisoned for any number of years for violating laws, and in some countries maybe shot, and so on and so forth. Illegals here...we give them jobs, ss cards, credit cards, free education, free housing, free clothing, welfare (free money, food, etc...), and now we will give them residency, safety and all for the price of......NOTHING! It's all free for anyone who is not a citizen or the United States of America. Wow. Who wouldn't land here.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • DownTownBrown

      Laugh out loud. where do you come up with that crap?

      May 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ann Marie

    JC – Can we at least mention that the non citizen illegal alien aunt contributed to then candidate Obama's election campaign in vioulation of campaign laws and while she was on the dole?

    May 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      Good point. Here in my state they are doing a bit of investigation into campaign violations. This would be front page news around here if it was not for one small fact, it ain't local.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sashland

      Made an illegal political contribution? [link?] Was that point raised in her hearing? If health status is considered as a mitigating factor to deportation, shouldn't breaking the law be considered also?

      May 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. schnoodledad

    Is it any big surprise that a relative of the President gets special treatment? Come on people! There are people in Washington D.C. that get special treatment...then there are those that get very special treatment. I think she falls under the "very" group of people.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • gia

      Seems to me , she's been getting "special " treatment , from the Bush's way back then

      May 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • gia

      Talking about special treatment, don't forget the special treatment Bush gave Osama Bin Laden' brother company with all those lucrative business deals

      May 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. red

    Ok so the President of the united States knew there was an illegal alien in the country and he did nothing about. No wonder the federal government is so useless in dealing with this issue. Obama failed us on this one folks. He gets no credit and deserves to be questioned about his actions. When the top government official in the land does not follow the rule of law what do we expect from the rest of government? Booo Obama.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • DownTownBrown

      Where did it say she lived here illegally? Oh it didn't.. It actually states she was legally living here. Please die slow and read the article next time there smart guy.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      DownTownBrown: to quote the article I read:

      "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."

      I seem to see the word illegally there in reference to her living status.

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

      red gets to witness the perfect example of the divergence of logic, comprehension and reality.

      Don't ya know: she CAN'T be "illegal", she's human!!! Therefore, the portion of the article calling her illegal doesn't actually exist (in the self-delusional alternative realities of 1984 logic).

      But, some commenters are just TOO SMART to let the facts intrude into their fantasy world. Just remind them to give a hug t their fantasy friends...

      May 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. hollywood

    guess the president kept her in hiding, while she lived here illegal.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Catie Caddie


    May 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    An old woman gets to stay here with her family and that gets you so upset, so many of you? I'm shocked. You really think you are humans ? All of you on the right, you go to church right ? Yet you just hate people and love guns and money. What a bunch of evil sub humans you are.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Postingboy

      A Kenyan citizen defied legal orders from the US to leave the country and continued to live off of the sweat of the American worker and was rewarded despite her criminal act. Do you get it now?

      May 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sashland

      Everybody has a sad story – can they all, every billion of them, move to America?

      May 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sandy

    If you don't have ALL the facts, you need to just "not speak". It looks bad, but because I don't know all the facts, I'll just say, the judge has spoken. How many other people get free rides? What's the latest illegal immigrant count? Anyway, get over it... And as far as Arizona, if you'd listen, MORE people are FOR the new law than against. The stupid media either glosses over that fact or ignores it altogether. And certain people also ignore that piece of information when they hear it. It's called selective listening.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • DownTownBrown

      It doesn't matter if 99% of them like it, that doesn't mean it's right. Law isn't designed by popular opinion. So shuttup.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Smitty

    Dear President Obama:

    I'm planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for my health, and I would like to ask you to assist me.

    We're planning to simply walk across the border from the US. into Mexico , and we'll need your help to make a few arrangements.

    We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws.

    I'm sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Calderon, that I'm on my way over?

    Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

    1. Free medical care for my entire family.

    2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.

    3. Please print all Mexican Government forms in English.

    4. I want my grandkids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual) teachers.

    5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.

    6. I want my grandkids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.

    7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at school for both breakfast and lunch.

    8. I will need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government services.

    9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico , but I don't plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won't make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.

    10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.

    11. I plan to fly the US. flag from my housetop, put U S. flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.

    12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.

    13. Please have the president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say critical things about me or my family, or about the strain we might place on their economy.

    14. I want to receive free food stamps.

    15. Naturally, I'll expect free rent subsidies.

    16. I'll need income tax credits so that although I don't pay Mexican taxes, I'll receive money from the government.

    17. Please arrange it so that the Mexican Government pays $4,500.00 to help me buy a new car.

    18. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I'll get a monthly income in retirement.

    I know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk over to the US. from Mexico I am sure that President Calderon won't mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely.

    Thank you so much for your kind help.

    You're the man!!!

    P.S. I hear that otherwise, they are not as kind as you with illegals who enter Mexico and throw them in jail for two years the first time and then for 10-years if they dare re-enter. For starters. So your letter would really be appreciated.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • gia

      I hope you typed this in your lunch break

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

      "We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws."

      Whoa, stop the wagon right there chief. The Mexican government will have you deported before you can say 'litigation'. They actually enforce their immigration laws.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alf

      Hombre, I am moving out of Juarez if your demands are met! Esto es Mexico, get a grip....o.
      What next will you demand from us burgers and pizza in our cafeteria? Jodio Green Gold, go back to Norte America.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alf

      Donde esta el Tea Party (when you need them) to estop this crazy Green Gold! We have enough con tha Spring Breke!!!!

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

      please go! Obama all the way! Take Palin with you! We won't miss you.

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

      You wrote this as though President Obama signed all of these things into law. Most of what you've written has been on the "books" since the 70's. And, most of the individuals who receive assistance are caucasians, they out number most people of color. Also people, keep in mind, Mexicans aren't the only illegal immigrants, some Europeans are in the U.S. illegally as well. We as Americans just assume that if your skin is white you must be here legally.

      May 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
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