BOSTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- President Obama's aunt, living in the United States for years illegally, says if she arrived as an immigrant, the country is obliged to make her a citizen.
"If I come as an immigrant, you have the obligation to make me a citizen," 58-year-old Zeituni Onyango of Kenya said in an interview with WBZ-TV, Boston, that aired Monday.
In 2004, a judge ordered Onyango be deported, but she never left, hiding in the open, WBZ said, even attending Obama's swearing in as Illinois's junior U.S. senator and his presidential inauguration. The same judge who ordered her out of the country granted her asylum in May, saying her return to Kenya may endanger Onyango.
"Aunt Zeituni," as she has come to be known, entered the public spotlight in 2008 in the final days of the presidential election. When he learned of his aunt's illegal status, then-candidate Obama said, "If she has violated laws, then those laws have to be obeyed."
Onyango told WBZ she came to the United States in 2000 and intended to return to Kenya. But after she became ill and was hospitalized, she was broke and couldn't afford to leave.
"I knew I had overstayed," she told WBZ-TV.
Onyango said she lived for two years in a homeless shelter before moving into public housing in Boston
"I didn't take advantage of the system. The system took advantage of me," Onyango said of the system that gave her assistance despite her illegal immigrant status. "I didn't ask for it; they gave it to me. ... I didn't create it or vote for it. Go and ask your system."
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