Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Boston Globe-Visa Status of President Obama's Kenyan Aunt "At Risk"

Zeituni Onyango, President Obama's Aunt: Boston Globe
(Story reported by Maria Sacchetti for the Boston Globe)

The immigration judge who granted President Obama’s aunt asylum three months ago based his decision on the fact that an anonymous federal official had disclosed information about her immigration status to the media, a “reckless’’ act that exposed her to heightened threats of persecution in her native Kenya, according to the ruling, obtained yesterday by the Globe.

Although the grant of asylum to Zeituni Onyango in May was made public, the written decision detailing the reason for it was kept under wraps because of federal privacy laws. But the secrecy sparked accusations that she had received favorable treatment.

The decision was released yesterday through the Freedom of Information Act.

Onyango, a 58-year-old resident of Boston public housing, had tried twice to win asylum allowing her to stay in the United States and had been rejected both times. But her third attempt came under different circumstances brought about in part by an anonymous government official, according to the decision.

Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro, who presided over her deportation case in February, said a federal law enforcement official’s public revelations about her confidential case catapulted Onyango into the spotlight in a “highly publicized and highly politicized manner’’ just days before Obama’s historic election in November 2008. The publicity and her status as Obama’s aunt are the crux of his 29-page decision.

(click here to read the full story on the Boston Globe website)

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