President Obama’s paternal aunt Zeituni Onyango, who is a citizen of Kenya and living in the U.S. illegally, appeared in a Boston court recently to fight a deportation order issued in 2004.
Onyango, who is wheelchair bound, testified before Judge Leonard Shapiro about her asylum request, according to media reports. Her previous request filed in 2002 was denied both in first instance and on appeal, but the 57-year-old remained in the U.S. nonetheless.
The latest round began in December 2008, when the deportation order was suspended pending a new asylum bid. Judge Shapiro did not issue a ruling last week, and attorneys have 30 days to file written closing briefs. The hearing may be continued on May 25 if there is no decision before then.
The case has come under fire from immigration reform proponents, such as Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, who said it is symptomatic of what is wrong with the U.S. asylum adjudication process.
"Her case is all too typical, where you have people who have had countless bites at the apple, continuing to press appeal after appeal…and never actually being removed from the country," he said, quoted by OneNewsNow.com.
Mehlman added that this only encourages immigrants to abuse America’s asylum policies.
A spokesperson for Obama said the president is not involved in any aspect of the case.
"This is a legal issue, and the president strongly believes that the law should be followed by everyone," press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters last week, quoted by CNN.