Sunday, November 02, 2008

Because protecting America is the highest priority

The Department of Homeland Security may have "outed" Barack Obama's aunt as an illegal alien, according to a report Sunday.

Zeituni Onyango, 56, the half-sister of Obama's late father, resides in Boston and was ordered to leave the United States by an asylum immigration judge in 2004.

Her immigration status was revealed Friday by the Associated Press, which cited two unnamed sources, one of them a "federal law enforcement official."


"Federal privacy law restricts U.S. immigration agencies from disclosing information about citizens and permanent residents, and DHS policy similarly limits disclosures about the status of legal and illegal immigrants," the Washington Post wrote. "Asylum-seekers are granted greater protection, because of the sensitive nature of their claims and the risks of retaliation."

Added the New York Times: "Some Democrats suggested that the timing of the disclosure could have been politically motivated, and some immigration lawyers said that for government officials to disclose information about an asylum applicant was unethical or perhaps illegal."
Update 11/3: Obama's campaign responds:
Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod would not comment on the aunt's immigration status but said Obama last met her for sure at his Senate inauguration ceremony in 2004.

"It's not a real close relationship. They have not been in close touch," he told reporters after Obama addressed 15,000 supporters in Henderson, Nevada.

Axelrod ascribed ulterior motives to the revelations after The Associated Press reported that Onyango had remained living in Boston despite having her request for asylum rejected by an immigration judge four years ago.

"The American people are pretty suspicious of things that are dumped in the marketplace 72 hours out from election day," the top aide said.

In a separate statement, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said: "Senator Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws be followed."

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement refused to confirm or deny the report about Onyango, who is part of a large extended family on Obama's father's side spread across Kenya, the United States and Europe.

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