BOSTON -- President Obama's Kenyan aunt, who was granted asylum in the United States after having lived in the country illegally for several years, has died, an employee of the law firm that represented her said today.
Zeituni Onyango, 61, died in her sleep on Monday night at a nursing and rehabilitation center in South Boston, said Gordon Landefeld, marketing manager at Margaret W. Wong and Associates, a Cleveland-based firm.
Landefeld said Onyango had been ill since January.
Onyango, a half-sister of Obama's father, moved to the United States in 2000 and applied for asylum in 2002, citing violence in Kenya. Her request was initially denied but she continued to fight her case, citing health problems.
In 2010, an immigration judge in Boston granted her asylum, allowing her to remain in the United States. The ruling gave her the right to apply for a work permit and put her on track for permanent residency.
Onyango was a half-sister to Obama's father, and Obama referred to her as “Auntie Zeituni” in his memoir, “Dreams from My Father.”
Landefeld, the law firm employee, said details about her funeral arrangements were not immediately available.