Obama’s Auntie Zeituni granted asylum

Ten years after arriving in the US and six years after receiving a deportation order, President Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, has been granted asylum.  We first told you about Obama’s aunt living illegally in the US, here, just before Obama’s election to the Presidency in 2008.

From the Boston Herald:

A jubilant Zeituni Onyango celebrated in South Boston today after learning a U.S. immigration court granted her asylum – a decision her neighbors speculated was probably helped by her nephew, President Obama.

“It’s obvious her nephew helped,” said neighbor Marion Swain. “She’s a very nice person – very well spoken. That’s life.”

Onyango faced being deported to Kenya by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but a judge ruled she can now apply for a work visa and green card.

“I don’t want to be disturbed,” said Onyango through the door of her public housing unit on L Street.


The ruling to allow Onyango to stay in the Hub was mailed Friday and comes three months after the half-sister of Obama’s late father testified at a closed hearing in Boston, where she arrived in a wheelchair. Two doctors testified in support of her case then.

The basis for her asylum request was never made public. People who seek asylum must show that they face persecution in their homeland on the basis of religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

“The asylum process is confidential and she wants to keep it that way, so we can’t get into details on why the judge granted asylum or the exact basis for her claim,” said her attorney Scott Bratton. He added: “She doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her.”


Medical issues also could have played a role. Onyango’s lawyers told the Herald she was disabled and was learning to walk again after being paralyzed from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

Onyango moved to the United States in 2000. Her first asylum request was rejected, and she was ordered deported in 2004. But she didn’t leave the country and continued to live in Boston.

Although regrettable, I don’t believe one’s medical circumstances are grounds for a positive asylum determination.  Does this mean that we are now going to grant asylum to Kenyans when Kenya is a relatively stable country?

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