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WOULD SHE REALLY HAVE BEEN PERSECUTED?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 29, 2010) — The judge who granted political asylum to Zeituni Onyango, Obama’s half-aunt who had defied a deportation order from 2004, said that his decision was justified because a government official had leaked Onyango’s status to the Associated Press three days before the 2008 presidential election.
His decision reportedly included the fact that Obama was “elected as the first black president.” The connection between that and immigration law is unclear. A report from the UK states that Onyango “made illegal contributions” to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 in the amount of $260, but that Onyango didn’t know that campaign contributions became a matter of public record.
Onyango had originally entered the U.S. on a tourist visa and overstayed her allotted time.
Kenyan officials are displeased about the judge’s decision, claiming that “The allegations made against the country are not only untrue but unrealistic to any person who understands our country.” Onyango had argued during her hearing in February that she would be “persecuted” if deported back to her “home country” of Kenya.
She also reportedly said that she “could be targeted by members of Kenya’s government” if returned there. Dr. Alfred Mutua, Public Communications Secretary and Government Spokesperson, refuted Onyango’s contention by stating,”The Government has never been interested in Ms. Zeituni Onyang’o and does not have any issue with her. The Government urges all Kenyans that when one seeks residency in another country, one should tell the truth. The case of Ms. Zeituni Onyang’o is an embarrassment and has tarnished the name of the country.”
Mutua has also stated that Obama has involved himself in Kenya’s politics unnecessarily.
Obama stated that he didn’t know that Onyango had been living in the United States.
The decision to grant Onyango asylum was made in May, but the judge’s order was made public earlier this month by means of a Freedom of Information Act request made by The Boston Globe. The judge reportedly agreed with Onyango that if returned to Kenya, she would be “a target.” According to a legal website, “Political asylum is available to people already in the United States who fear returning to their home country due to actual persecution or have a well-founded fear of actual persecution because of:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
In his decision, Judge Shapiro reportedly wrote,””Now that her status as an asylum applicant has been disclosed, she would be considered a traitor to her government.” The definition of “traitor” is here. It is unclear how the judge reached that conclusion, as those who seek political asylum “must prove they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their homelands.”
Obama’s step-grandmother, who reportedly stated that she was in the delivery room when Obama was born in Kenya, reportedly is now “a celebrity” there, and electricity was provided to her following Obama’s questionably illegal, but overt win, in the 2008 presidential election.
The “violence” which Onyango reportedly cited as a reason for asylum in 2008 stemmed from the post-2007 election chaos after Obama’s cousin, Raila Odinga, lost the presidential election in Kenya in which Christians were burned to death and more than 350,000 people displaced. One report describes the strife which occurred as “Kenya’s worst crises (sic) since independence from Britain in 1963.”
Another account states that 1,000 people lost their lives and that 600,000 were displaced.
Onyango is reportedly a “large character” in Obama’s book, Dreams from my Father, and is quoted in the memoir as having said to Obama upon his arrival in Kenya in 1988, “Welcome home.”
The judge’s decision in Onyango’s case is here, with redactions.