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Obama's Aunt Granted Asylum

Ruth Manuel | 5/18/2010, 11:11 a.m.

A federal immigration judge granted Zeituni Onyango, President Barack Obama's Kenyan-born aunt, asylum on Monday, May 18. The court agreed with the woman's team of legal experts that her life could be in danger if forced to return to her homeland, because she is related to the president. The ruling clears a path for Onyango to apply for permanent residency in a year and U.S. citizenship after five years.

Onyango is the half-sister of Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. The 57-year-old woman first hit U.S. shores in 2000. She initially applied for asylum in 2004 but was rejected and soon faced deportation. Instead of leaving the country, though, Onyango, who could barely walk due to an autoimmune disorder, decided to stay in the U.S.

Onyango found a public housing project in South Boston and tried to blend in, becomming one of the estimated 500,000 people living illegally in the United States.

In 2008, Onyango's immigration status was revealed publically, coincidentally, right before her nephew was elected. At the time, Obama claimed he was unaware of his aunt's illegal immigration status. Although Obama spoke of his "Auntie Zeituni" fondly, he did not mince words when he made public at the time that he would not intervene in her case and that "any and all appropriate laws" would be followed.

According to the White House, Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro told the Associated Press on Monday that the President had no involvement in the case at any point in the process.

Meanwhile, Onyango is reportedly steering clear of the media. Two police cars were also stationed outside her apartment building to keep reporters away.