Obama’s aunt says ‘system’ was at fault
Zeituni Onyango said President Obama played no part in her asylum process. (Jonathan Wiggs/ Globe Staff/ File)
By Vivian Ho
Globe Correspondent / September 21, 2010
In her first interview since an immigration judge granted her asylum, President Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, blamed “the system’’ for her controversial living arrangement in Boston public housing as an illegal immigrant.
“I didn’t take advantage of the system,’’ she said in an interview with WBZ-TV last night. “The system took advantage of me.’’
Onyango, 58, first came to the United States in 2000 with the intention of returning to her home country of Kenya, but she said she became ill and was unable to afford the return trip home. Onyango suffers from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.
She said she has been receiving disability checks of up to $700 a month while living in public housing.
Although Onyango admitted to overstaying her visit, she made no apologies during her interview. She said she lived in a homeless shelter for two years before she was assigned to public housing.
“I don’t mind,’’ she said. “You can take that house. I can be on the streets with homeless people. 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.’’
Onyango, the half sister of Obama’s father, had been living under a deportation order since 2004, when her first request for asylum was denied. She was granted asylum in May, contending that as a member of the Luo tribe, a minority in Kenya, she would be a target if she was to return.
Onyango continually asserted that the immigration system is flawed. “If I come as an immigrant, you have the obligation to make me a citizen,’’ she declared.