Obama`s aunt says US has "obligation" to grant her citizenship

Last Updated: Sep 22, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Boston: US President Barack Obama`s aunt,
who has lived illegally in America for nearly 10 years, says
the US is obligated to grant her citizenship.

Zeituni Onyango, half sister of Obama`s father, was
granted asylum in May this year. She said Obama has not helped
in her fight to gain asylum, nor has he helped her
financially.

"If I come as an immigrant, you have the obligation to
make me a citizen," Onyango said in an interview to WBZ-TV.

Onyango arrived in Boston in 2000 but did not return to
her home country of Kenya when her visa expired. She said she
"knew I had overstayed," but did not leave the country as she
was "too sick to leave."

She stayed in a homeless shelter in the city for two
years and was later assigned public housing, "all along living
illegally and violating the law," the TV channel said.

When asked if she wanted to become an American citizen,
Onyango, 58 said, "If I didn`t, why the hell would I have been
here all this time."

Onyango said she does not owe this country anything in
return nor has she taken any help from her nephew. "I am not
the President`s obligation. I carry my own cross."

Describing her relationship with Obama as "close,"
Onyango said, "President Obama, I am his aunt, I am the only
person on earth allowed to pinch his ears and smack him. Not
his father, not his mother, not his wife or brother - he`ll
fight with him. But Auntie is a much honoured person in
African culture."

She however added that she has not been invited to
Washington. "I don`t have any business in Washington DC, in
White House. Don`t I have other things to do?"

Unemployed, Onyango receives nearly 700 dollars a month
in disability benefits. This has not gone down well with
taxpayers in the state who "are angry" that she has been
living illegally in the country for almost 10 years and has
been getting monthly public assistance while others who paid
into the system are denied those same benefits.

"I have been treated like public enemy number 1. I did
not take advantage of the system, the system took advantage of
me," she said. "You can take that house. I can be on the
streets with homeless people. I did not ask for it (public
housing). They gave it to me. Ask your system. I did not
create it or vote for it. Go and ask your system."

On why city taxpayers should be burdened with paying for
her needs, Onyango said, "This country is owned by almighty
God. You people who preach Jesus Christ, almighty God ...are
here to help people, help the poor, help other countries and
help women. That is what the United States is supposed to do.

And you have to give me my right."

Onyango had been living under a deportation order since
2004 when her first request for asylum was denied. She was
granted asylum in May this year by the same judge who had
ordered her deportation. One of the reasons the judge cited
for the change in the ruling was Onyango`s relationship to
Obama.

He had ruled that her connection with Obama would make
her a target in Kenya, writing, "she faces at least a 10 per
cent chance of future persecution in Kenya."

PTI