Activist Group Calls for Deportation of Obama's Aunt
By Spencer S. Hsu
An anti-immigration group yesterday called on President Obama to arrest and deport his aunt, appealing to conservative activists to make her case a symbol of his administration's immigration enforcement policies.
"If you do not execute the deportation order for your aunt, then your lip service about the Rule of Law is no CHANGE from George Bush," William Gheen, head of Americans for Legal Immigration, said in a written statement.
News organizations reported last fall that Zeituni Onyango, 56, was ordered to leave the country in October 2004 by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum from her native Kenya.
However, Onyango, Obama's father's half-sister, is now living legally in the United States. An immigration judge stayed her deportation on Dec. 17, reopened her case requesting asylum on Dec. 30 and set a hearing on April 1 in Boston, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Executive Office of Immigration Review said.
Fewer than half of immigrants are detained while in removal proceedings, the EOIR has reported, although the percentage held grew from 29 percent to 42 percent between 2005 and 2007, the last year for which data are available.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency does not comment on specific cases. However, an ICE official said detention decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and would consider a person's flight risk, threat to the community and available alternatives, as well as national security and humanitarian factors.
A person with no criminal history and who is already in removal proceedings would not necessarily represent a high-priority and would not be routinely arrested, the official said.
The White House declined comment. It has said Obama "has not contacted any government agency regarding Ms. Onyango's case, nor has any representative of the president."
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