President Obama’s Aunt Resurfaces in Public Housing

August 3, 2009                                                                                            Win a green card Subscribe in a reader
President Obama’s Aunt Zeituni Polly Onyango

Zeituni Polly Onyango, who is the half-sister of Obama’s father, had been staying with relatives in Cleveland but moved back to Boston late last year.

With her deportation hearing still six months away, the controversial Kenyan aunt of President Obama has quietly resurfaced in public housing in South Boston.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Obama’s “Auntie Zeituni” Onyango, 57 said yesterday with a mischievous smile, wearing a string of pearls and a sleeveless forest-green sheath she said her nephew (Presiden Obama) bought her years before he became leader of the free world.

“I’d like to live in a castle and have a limousine,” she said, “but I don’t. My wealth is my health.”

Zeituni Polly Onyango, the half-sister of Obama’s late father Barack Obama Sr., moved into a discreet apartment complex this past month while she waits to fight a Feb. 4, 2010, removal proceeding brought against her by the Department of Homeland Security in U.S. Immigration Court in Boston.

Onyango, a computer programmer, was ordered to leave the country in 2004 after her request for political asylum from the violence in Africa was turned down. Instead, she stayed illegally and was revealed to be living in government-subsidized housing on Flaherty Way in Southie last October by The Times of London during the final stretch of Obama’s run for the White House.

Should President Obama stand up as a character witness

Though reluctant to discuss her case yesterday, Onyango bristled when asked if she’ll request her nephew stand up for her as a character witness.

“Why should he?” she said. “My problem is my problem. I carry my own cross. I’m an adult.”

Mike Rogers, spokesman for the Cleveland, Ohio, law firm representing Onyango, said her attorneys are “not discussing legal strategy,” but, “they’re very optimistic about the outcome.”

Rogers said Onyango is “very proud” of Obama. “For a woman who has a lot of things against her, she seemed to be of strong spirit,” he said.

Attorneys Margaret Wong and Scott Bratton have asked that Onyango’s immigration hearing be closed to the public, according to Elaine Komis, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Onyango said sheís been enjoying her privacy since escaping the heat of last year’s worldwide spotlight on her and enjoys joining in on conversations about her nephew with people who don’t recognize her.

“Boston is my second home,” she said. “(South Boston) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever lived in. People are very kind, and I’m enjoying the beaches.”


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