Court grants Obama's Kenyan aunt asylum

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The Independent US

A US immigration court has granted asylum to President Barack Obama's African aunt, allowing her to stay in the country. The decision comes three months after Zeituni Onyango, a Kenyan native and half-sister of Mr Obama's late father, appeared at a closed hearing in Boston, where she arrived in a wheelchair and two doctors testified in support of her case. Ms Onyango plans to apply for a work visa.

The basis for her asylum request was never made public. People who seek asylum must show that they face persecution in their homeland.

"The asylum process is confidential, so we can't get into details on the exact basis for her claim," said her lawyer, Scott Bratton. Another lawyer, Margaret Wong of Cleveland, said last year that Ms Onyango first applied for asylum "due to violence in Kenya". Medical issues also could have played a role. In a November interview with the Associated Press, Ms Onyango said she was disabled and was learning to walk again after being paralysed by Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

Ms Onyango moved to the US in 2000. Her first asylum request was rejected, and she was ordered deported in 2004, but she didn't leave the country. A spokesman for Mr Obama, Nick Shapiro, said yesterday that the White House had no involvement in the case at any point.