Onyango Obama, 68, has lived in the United States for nearly 50 years. He was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of drunken driving, at which point his immigration status was revealed. He had remained in the country despite a court order to leave.
In a hearing at a Boston immigration court last week, Obama successfully argued his legal counsel at the time failed to mount an adequate defense, the Boston Globe said Monday. An anonymous source told the newspaper Obama's lawyer never filed a legal brief offering his side of the story before the immigration court issued its deportation order.
Immigration lawyers expressed surprise at the court's finding, telling the Globe it's unusual -- though not unheard of -- for an immigration court to consider an appeal after someone here illegally is arrested.
Obama took a plea deal in which he admitted there was sufficient evidence for his arrest, but that will see the charge expunged should he abide by certain terms, including no further arrests and a year of probation.
"With an outstanding order and a legally fuzzy plea, it's pretty unusual for the board to reopen" an immigration case, said Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington. "It's not unheard of, but it's pretty unusual."