President Barack Obama’s uncle has been granted a new deportation hearing 20 years after he was ordered for a third time by immigration judges to return to Kenya .
According to the Boston Globe
, Onyango Obama won approval for a new hearing from the Board of Immigration Appeals, based in part on his claim that his previous lawyer was ineffective in representing his case.
With new lawyers in hand, the 68-year-old Obama, who has lived in the United States since 1963, argues that he deserves a chance to make his case even though he's been avoiding a series of deportation orders from 1986, 1989, and 1992.
The Globe reported Tuesday that Obama was arrested in Framingham, Mass., more than a year ago on a drunken driving charge. That's when law enforcement officials discovered that he was in violation of a long-standing order to leave the country.
At the time, Obama told arresting officers, "I think I'll call the White House."
According to the Globe, Obama arrived in Massachusetts at the age of 17 to study at an elite boy's school in Cambridge. He was supposed to return to Kenya by Dec. 24, 1970, according to records obtained by the newspaper.
The decision to grant him a new hearing, the Globe noted, "raised eyebrows among immigration lawyers," who said it was unusual for the immigration courts to reconsider a case involving an arrest, not to mention repeated violations of a deportation order.
“With an outstanding order and a legally fuzzy plea, it’s pretty unusual for the board to reopen” Crystal Williams, executive director of the Washington-based American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the Globe. “It’s not unheard of, but it’s pretty unusual.”
Scott Bratton, one of Obama’s lawyers at the Margaret Wong law firm in Cleveland, told the newspaper the board's decision would allow Obama "to pursue his application for permanent resident status.”
Obama is not the first relative of the president to face deportation in the Boston immigration court. The Globe noted that the president’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, was granted asylum in 2010, two years after she was discovered living in Boston public housing in violation of a deportation order.
Critics of the board's decision, suggested Obama appeared to be getting special treatment because of his relationship with the president, even though Presidnet Obama has never been close to his father's side of the family.
“He would seem to fit the criteria of someone we would want to remove,” Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors stricter limits on immigration, told the Globe. “And yet even in this case the system bends to his will and he gets another hearing.”
But other immigration lawyers interviewed by the Globe said the fact that Obama is related to the president poses a serious threat if he is returned to Kenya.
“Anyone who’s related to the president of the United States technically is at risk,” said Boston lawyer Matthew Maiona.
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