“If I come as an immigrant, you have the obligation to make me a citizen.” Those are the words from 58-year-old Zeituni Onyango of Kenya in a recent exclusive interview with WBZ-TV.
Onyango is the aunt of President Barack Obama. She has been living in the United States illegally for years, receiving public assistance in Boston.
Aunt Zeituni, as she has come to be known, first surfaced in the public light in 2008, in the final days of the Presidential election. Then-candidate Obama said that he was not against the possible deportation of his aunt. “If she has violated laws, then those laws have to be obeyed,” he told CBS’s Katie Couric. “We are a nation of laws.”
Onyango had violated the law, and she knew it.
“I knew I had overstayed” she told WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Elias when the two sat down one-on-one.
Zeituni Onyango said she came to the United States in 2000 and had every intention of leaving. Then, however, she says she got deathly ill and was hospitalized. When she recovered, she said she was broke and couldn’t afford to leave.
For two years Onyango said she lived in a homeless shelter, before she was moved into public housing. “I didn’t take advantage of the system. The system took advantage of me.”
“I didn’t ask for it; they gave it to me. Ask your system. I didn’t create it or vote for it. Go and ask your system,” she said unapologetically.
And she’s right. The system provided her assistance despite her status as an illegal immigrant.
In 2004 a judge ordered Zeituni Onyango out of the country, but she never left.
She stayed, hiding in plain site. In 2005 she attended her nephew’s swearing in as the junior Senator of Illinois.
In 2008 she traveled to D.C. for President Obama’s inauguration.
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