Obama aunt anguished by separation

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President Barack Obama’s aunt buried her face in her hands and sobbed as she described her anguish over no longer having contact with him and his family after the revelation she had been living illegally for years in the United States in public housing.

Zeituni Onyango (zay-TUH’-nee awn-YAHN’-goh) told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that she is troubled that her immigration woes have made her a political liability to her nephew.

Onyango, the half sister of Obama’s late father, said she has exiled herself from the family after attending Obama’s inauguration because she didn’t want to become fodder for his foes. Obama and his family have not reached out to her either, she said.

“Before, we were family. But right now, there is a lot of politics, and me, I am not interested in any politics at all,” said Onyango, whose appeal for asylum from her native Kenya is before an immigration judge in Boston.
The Obamas are her only family in the United States, she said.

“It is very sad when such a thing happens. There are people, outsiders, you know, they come in between, they divide a family,” she said last week. “It’s not easy.”

Onyango, 57, is protective of Obama and said she never asked him to intervene in her case and didn’t tell him about her immigration difficulties.

“I carry my own cross,” she said. “He has nothing to do with my problem.”
The White House said Obama has had no involvement in his aunt’s case and believes it should run its ordinary course.

Onyango helped care for the president’s half brothers and sister while living with Barack Obama Sr. in Kenya. She moved to the United States in 2000 and applied for asylum in 2002, but her request was rejected and she was ordered deported in 2004.


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press