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. Rocky

    A pressidence was just set, now there is reason for all ilegals to stay. He didn't have to pull any strings his position dictated the judges answer. I can't believe anyone is taken in by these continuing lies....... wake up america.....

    May 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Don Quito

    Kenya sucks

    May 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ChiTownPhilly

    Why should she not be allowed here?!?!?!?! Who the heck are all you people to pass judgement on somebody for wanting a better life? F all you losers who say crap like "she is an illiegal and needs to go back to kenya" I hope OLIIVA goes to kenya.

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

      Ok then let all the other illegals stay, take a job and pay no taxes. Yes that is the answer according to you. There are procedures to follow. If you do not follow them then you are here illegally. No one said any of it makes sense but those are the rules. BTW if she was American in Kenya she would be booted out of Kenya the first time she ran afoul of the law.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MadTownGirl

    I would think the fact that the woman is Obama's aunt might have an legitimate effect on her asylum request, if she would be more likely to be targeted in her home country due to the relationship.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Oh right.....like that is ANY surprise!

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

    Let's see if I have this straight. She is declared an illegal and asked to leave the country. She appeals twice and both times loses and asked to leave the country. Now, it's ok to stay with the only change in her situation is the new job of her half brother. Hmmmmm....I'm not a conspiracy theorist but, really, this reeks. I think the judge has a bit of explaining to do. Actually, a lot of explaining to do. Nexrt, the govenment will build her a condo and put her on a big monthly stipend. Boy, is this country ever upside down.

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

      No, you don't have it straight. You have it so back-asswards that I don't know where to begin deconstructing such a stupid comment.

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

      Hey Brown you have now proven twice you cannot read a simple article and comprehend what the heck it says.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Karen in Iowa

    First, if she received a social security card in 2001, as it states in the story, she absolutely could have qualified for government assistance, like food stamps, welfare, and subsidized housing, at least until 2004, when she lost legal status, but maybe longer if the system failed to catch that. Those programs do not require that you be a citizen, only a legal resident, which she was, until 2004. I don't have to like it, it is just the truth. Second, the article never mentions whether she actually received any of that assistance, so the point is moot. Third, and the one that really gets me, is that, since 2004, she has been BREAKING THE LAW. Ya, I love when we let criminals stay in the country. Yes, breaking the law for 6 years makes her a criminal.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mick Mack

    Is she coming to the White House for Thanksgiving? Oh, that's right...they are all muslims. The whole farm.

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

      Not all Kenyans are Muslim BTW.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Woodsong

    REALLY?!?!?! What a surprise the illegal immigrant aunt gets to stay. Kick her butt back to Africa where she belongs or maybe she would like to move to Mexico where they have zero tolerance for illegals. WHAT A JOKE. Olivia, I with you on the "Hopey-Change" crap. Obozo's campaign was so choreographed and all those losers bought into it. Hope they are starting TO SEE THE LIGHT!!! No Uhmm we are not flipping out over one person getting asylum. We are flipping out about who it is!!! A NOT WORTHY person getting asylum. And NO to any kind of asylum to those from Mexico who have been sucking us dry!!! They all need to go back to Mexico.

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

      When your useless, broke family crossed the atlantic illegally in search for America, they were allowed to stay. Screw that I saw send your whole bloodline back to whatever rock you crawled out from under.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. L

    This is a little different from the arizona issue. This lady arrived here legaly. She was in illegal status once she was denied the initial asylum request. Can someone who knows immigration law chime in here? It seems like you wont get deported while you are still in the process of fixing your status (puting in the appeals etc.) even if you have an order to leave the country. I think they can stay (wont be deported) until all the apeal have been exausted. (of course they cant legaly hold a job etc)

    Her half-nephew becoming president did change the equation. I dont think it was in the way most people think. Obama wants to stay out of it because if all the political nightmare it will cause. But the the request for asylum probably has a lot more validity now that she is related to the president of the US. If she wasnt a target before, she certainly is now!!

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

      Yes you are correct she would not be deported until her appeals process was finished. But she was already given three bites at the apple. She received more chances then the normal would have gotten.

      You people may think the Obama had nothing to do with it, but there is no way any judge is ordering the relative of the President deported. Get real!

      May 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • texaslady2

      I'd guess that if she weren't the president's aunt, she'd be back in Kenya by now. As for the Statue of Liberty, just how much of the Third World's "huddled masses" are we expected to absorb? They can breed 'em a lot faster than we can absorb 'em. The Third World's main problem is overpopulation: until they get their numbers under control, we will have hordes of illegal aliens trying to sneak in. Thankfully, not many will be Obama's relatives.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. thetruth2010

    Show you how crazy this country is and how stupid corporations are. They think oh well i get rid of this 14.00 american worker for a 1.00 Mexican immigrant i save 13.00. Wrong.. in the long run you lose because all those workers who worked on your farm at 14.00 dollars who are now laid off cant buy your products anymore and dont spend money in the local economy.... So that pizza shop down the street those 14 dollar an hour workers use to frequent closes and on and on and on. No corporations do things backwards and wonder why we have failures like we did with banking and so on.. And yet people think the government is the issue.. Wow. Going after the corporations who hire cheap labor will stop the job loss, help with the tax issues and save this country.. But if you really are concerned about jobs.. its not tax cuts that will have them.. LOOK AT WHAT YOU BUY.. By american but from an american company who supports and has American workers.. What good is buying a Chevy when its built in Korea. And NO money dont go back to Detroit either.. has not been the case in 40 years!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Don Quito

    Thanksgiving and Muslim have nothing to do with each other............LOL!!!! I think you are getting your hatred turned around. You can celebrate thanksgiving and be an American Born Muslim...just saying man.....

    May 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. YadVashem

    We are all equal . . only some of us are more equal than the rest of you. Now go back to work and pay your taxes!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Denizen Kate

    Doesn't anyone else think it's rediculous that it took two years for her asylum request to be denied? Or that it has taken another six years for this case to be resolved? Is it any wonder so many try to stay here illegally? It seems like immigrating in the legal manner can take many years, and probably enormous amounts of money paid to lawyers (who, by the way, are the only winners in our current immigration methods).

    May 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. max5150

    Has everyone forgotten what the statue of Liberty says. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" I guess we need to add, As long as they are white and can blend in.

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

      The meaning still stands... just do it LEGALLY.

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

      I think that's on their books for tomorrow.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smitty

      Where does it say enter illegally? Our country has and will take people everyday that need us more than we need them But they do it the right way! Why should all these people around the world that are waiting to come here legally get screwed because people that came here illegally jumped them in line? I am all for a way-out not a hand-out!

      May 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • ni6180

      NO Max it should say as long as you are not illegal, not a crimanal ,not a terrorist and do not want to live on our welfare system.Both my grand parents come here legaly and worked to make a better life.They love this country and have the wish's as do most americans,they are the above .

      May 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Postingboy

      Fine, since the statue of liberty wants em, they can all live in her crown.

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