Tags: obama | aunt | asylum | hearing | petition

Obama's Aunt's Asylum Petition Still Undecided

Thursday, 04 Feb 2010 03:54 PM

 

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BOSTON – An immigration hearing for President Barack Obama's African aunt has ended without an immediate decision in her bid for asylum.

Kenya native Zeituni Onyango testified for about two-and-a-half hours Thursday at the closed proceedings in U.S. Immigration Court. Two doctors also testified in support of the case her lawyer said includes medical reasons to stay in the U.S.

Attorneys for Onyango and the government have 30 days to file closing briefs. The hearing could continue on May 25 if the judge does not issue a ruling before then.

Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's late father, 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 public housing in Boston.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BOSTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's African aunt testified on her own behalf at a closed hearing Thursday in U.S. Immigration Court, making another bid for asylum because of what her lawyer said includes medical reasons.

Kenya native Zeituni Onyango took the stand for about 2 1/2 hours, said Amy Cohn, a spokeswoman for attorney Margaret Wong. Two doctors also will testify at the hearing, expected to end in mid-afternoon.

"The doctors are here in reference to her medical conditions, but that's not the only aspect of the case," Cohn said.

The 57-year-old Onyango arrived in a wheelchair Thursday, a cane across her lap. In an interview in November with The Associated Press, she said she is disabled and learning to walk again after being paralyzed from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

It was not clear when Judge Leonard Shapiro would rule. Lauren Alder Reid, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, said the judge could issue a decision Thursday after the hearing, could continue the hearing and hear additional testimony on another date, or could issue a decision later.

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said that the first family is not helping pay Onyango's legal fees and that the president has not spoken to her since he learned of her immigration status just days before the November 2008 elections.

"We would continue to say that everybody in this country should and must follow the law," Gibbs said. "We have not been involved at all in that hearing."

Wong also said the president has not become involved in Onyango's hearing. Asked Thursday if Obama had submitted a letter on behalf of his aunt, the attorney replied "absolutely not."

Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's late father, 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 public housing in Boston.

In November, Onyango said she never asked Obama to intervene in her case and didn't tell him about her immigration difficulties.

"He has nothing to do with my problem," she told the AP.

In his memoir, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," Obama affectionately referred to Onyango as "Auntie Zeituni" and described meeting her during his 1988 trip to Kenya.

Onyango helped care for the president's half brothers and sister while living with Barack Obama Sr. in Kenya.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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