Kenyan Aunt of President Barack Obama Dies at 61

In this 2009 photo, President Obama's aunt, Zeituni Onyango, poses in her home in Boston with a framed photograph of Obama and herself, when he was an Illinois state senator. Onyango, whose status as an illegal immigrant was revealed days before Obama was elected in 2008, died Tuesday. (Photo: Josh Reynolds AP)
In this 2009 photo, President Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, poses in her home in Boston with a framed photograph of Obama and herself, when he was an Illinois state senator. Onyango, whose status as an illegal immigrant was revealed days before Obama was elected in 2008, died Tuesday.
(Photo: Josh Reynolds AP)

An aunt of President Obama whose immigration status grabbed headlines before the president’s 2008 election has died in Massachusetts.

Attorney Margaret Wong, who represented the president’s aunt in her immigration case, said Zeituni Onyango died Tuesday in a Boston rehabilitation center.

Wong said that Onyango, 61, who was the half sister of the president’s father, was being treated for cancer and respiratory problems.

Onyango moved to the U.S. from Kenya in 2000 and was denied asylum by an immigration judge in 2004. But she remained in the country illegally, living in Boston public housing.

Her immigration case made headlines before Obama’s election in 2008.

Wong, who referred to Onyango as “Auntie,” recalled her as “a fine, tall, elegant woman who was very good with computers,”

“After her vilification by the press during the President’s campaign, she fought hard for her legal status,” Wong said in a statement. “She loved to travel, mostly by train, and enjoyed taking pictures everywhere she went.”

She was eventually granted asylum in 2010 by a judge who said she could be in danger if she returned to Kenya because of her relationship with Obama.

Wong said Onyango wrote her memoirs, titled Tears of Abuse, which was published in 2012 by Afripress Publishing Holdings.

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Source: USA Today | Aamer Madhani

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