Obama’s Aunt Given Asylum Due To Pre-Election Leaks

August 18, 2010 9:37 am

Three months ago, an immigration judge granted President Obama’s aunt asylum in the United States. While the decision was made public, the written document detailing the reasoning was kept secret because of federal privacy laws.

But the Boston Globe reported yesterday that the judge based his decision in Zeituni Onyango’s case on the fact that an anonymous federal official disclosed information about her immigration status shortly before the 2008 presidential campaign.Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro, a Republican nominee, called the disclosure a “reckless” act, which he ruled would exposed her to increased threats of persecution in her home country of Kenya, according to the ruling obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Now that her status as an asylum applicant has been disclosed, she would be considered a traitor to her government,” wrote Shapiro.

As TPMMuckraker reported just ahead of the election, the leak violated US Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the law enforcement arm of USCIS, began an internal probe into the leak to the Associated Press.

The 58-year-old Onyango is a resident of Boston public housing, according to the Globe. She had twice tried to win asylum in the U.S. prior to the media reports of her immigration status, but had been rejected both times.

A redacted version of the judge’s decision obtained by the Boston Globe is embedded below.

Decision of the immigration court in the Zeituni Onyango case

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