Upping The Auntie

In Boston, a Kenyan woman named Zeituni Onyango had her day in court recently. Ms. Onyango came to the US in 2000 on a student visa. In 2002, she sought political asylum, citing violence in Kenya. In 2004, she got her hearing — and was denied. She was ordered out of the country.

She didn’t bother to leave. Instead, she went on public assistance, moved into public housing, and just hung around, doing as she pleased despite the court order hanging over her head.

In 2008, her case sprung to national attention — at least partly. Someone noted an “Aunti Zeituni” mentioned in a certain book and went looking for her. That’s when it became widely known that Zeituni Onyango had had a half-brother by the name of Barack Obama Sr., whose son had become a United States senator and presidential nominee.

Now, Aunti Zeituni had never made a big deal about her famous relative. At least not publicly, She hasn’t had to; others have done it for her. After news of her broke, President Bush issued an order requiring top-level approval for her deportation — and that of any other illegal aliens in similar straits — before the election. Whether it was done out of compassion for Candidate Obama or done to prevent a groundswell of sympathy for him, it was a bad move.

Aunti hasn’t exactly been a stellar immigrant, either. She lives in public housing nominally reserved for the elderly (she’s 57), she spent years living on public assistance while ignoring the deportation order, and even violated US election laws by giving a donation to her nephew’s presidential campaign. I’m tempted to give her a pass on that one, but in context of all her other violations of US laws, as well as her living off the work of Americans and taking a spot in public housing that could have gone to a needy elderly American, my compassion goes right out the window.

It occurs to me that if Aunti has such a fondness for public housing, I know a place in a considerably warmer clime that has plenty of room for her, where she could bond with her family here in the US — especially her young grand-nieces. But her famous nephew already has his mother-in-law living with him, and he has no further use for her beyond a convenient prop in his book.

It must be stated that Aunti has made a tremendous contribution to America. She has brought to light many things that would have remain unseen. For example, the fact that in Boston, the city has rules that forbid even asking if someone is an illegal alien when granting public assistance, public housing, or any other sort of welfare. The fact that in the waning days of the 2008 presidential campaign, President Bush allowed politics to sway him to intervene on our illegal immigration enforcement.

And she’s shown starkly just how easy it is for President Obama to toss anyone under the bus when they become inconvenient. Here is his father’s half-sister, who played such a prominent role in his biography, in trouble and he won’t do anything. He won’t offer her any assistance. He won’t say that the law must be respected, even in this case. He won’t say or do anything, just let the relationship stand for others to note and discuss. He hasn’t offered her money for representation, hasn’t offered to sponsor her, hasn’t said or done anything.

And why should he? She served her purpose when he used her in his book. Now, no matter what he does, she would be a liability, so he ignores her.

It’s time to take the lesson of Aunti Zeituni to heart. Massachusetts had considered a law denying public assistance to illegal aliens (welfare, public housing, and the like), on the theory that American tax dollars ought to go to needy Americans first, and that went down in flames. Time to bring it back.

And it’s long past time Aunti Zeituni stopped sponging off American taxpayers and returned to her home. She’s demonstrated time and again her lack of respect for our laws.

And if President Obama doesn’t like that, he’s more than free to speak up. If he does, it’ll be the first time he’s said anything about her situation.

"rich irony at the White House"
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