Cleveland — A U.S. immigration court has granted asylum to President Barack Obama’s African aunt, allowing her to stay in the country and setting her on the road to citizenship after years of legal wrangling, her attorneys announced Monday.
The decision was made by a judge in U.S. Immigration Court in Boston and mailed out Friday. It comes three months after Kenya native Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama’s late father, testified at a closed hearing in Boston.
People who seek asylum must show that they face persecution in their homeland on the basis of religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.
The basis for Onyango’s asylum request was never made public, but her lawyer Margaret Wong said last year that Onyango first applied for asylum “due to violence in Kenya.” The East African nation is fractured by cycles of electoral violence every five years.
Medical issues also could have played a role. In a November interview with The Associated Press, Onyango said she was disabled and was learning to walk again after being paralyzed from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. At her hearing in Boston earlier this year, she arrived in a wheelchair and two doctors testified in support of her case.
Wong said the White House was not informed of the ruling. Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said Monday that the White House had no involvement in the case at any point in the process.