, BOSTON, May 18 – President Barack Obama\’s Kenyan aunt has been granted asylum to stay in the United States where she was living as an illegal immigrant, her lawyers said Monday.
Zeituni Onyango had faced deportation in a bizarre and potentially embarrassing situation for Obama, whose father\’s family came from Kenya.
Attorney Margaret Wong said she had "received word from Judge Leonard Shapiro\’s office that their client Zeituni Onyango has been granted asylum in her deportation case."
The ruling means that Onyango will be eligible for a work permit, social security card and driver\’s license, Wong said. In a year she can apply for permanent residency, or a green card, and in five years seek US citizenship.
Onyango ignored a 2004 deportation order and had to fight her deportation in court, testifying that she faced "tribal violence" in her homeland.
The president\’s aunt has been living on public assistance and has no known funding source of her own.
She was unearthed by the media only in 2008, days before Obama won his historic election as the first African-American president.
The White House says Obama was unaware of her illegal status until November 2008 and denies suggestions that political pressure may have been exerted on the court.
Wong said that Obama had not submitted written support for Onyango\’s asylum and the aunt said she had severed ties to the president after her troubles became public.
She is the half-sister of Obama\’s late father, who was Kenyan and married a white American, who gave birth to the future president in Hawaii.
Onyango moved to the United States in 2000 and applied for political asylum two years later, but was turned down. She was ordered deported in 2004.