Court grants asylum to Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango

Laurel J. Sweet and Joe Dwinell
The Boston Herald
5/17/2010

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…

…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.”

Another lawyer, Margaret Wong of Cleveland, said last year that Onyango first applied for asylum “due to violence in Kenya.” The East African nation is fractured by cycles of electoral violence every five years…

…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.

Onyango’s status as an illegal immigrant was revealed just days before Obama was elected in November 2008. Obama said he did not know his aunt was living here illegally and believes laws covering the situation should be followed.

A judge later agreed to suspend her deportation order and reopen her asylum case…

Read the entire article at The Boston Herald.

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