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All in the family

The saga of the extended Obama family continues to amaze. In the closing days of the 2008 campaign, we met Barack Obama’s Aunt Zeituni, the woman whom he fondly recalled from his voyage to Kenya in Dreams From My Father. (Her name is Zeituni Onyango and she is the half-sister of Barack Obama, Sr.)

In the closing days of the campaign Aunt Zeituni was found, not in Kenya, but rather holed up in public housing in South Boston, living on welfare while residing illegally in the United States subject to a deportation order. Since that time, however, her immigration case has arrived at a happy ending, at least for her. She has been granted the status of a legal resident; taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for the pleasure of her company.

Now comes Aunt Zeituni’s brother, Obama Onyango — Uncle Obama, also known as Uncle Omar. Uncle Obama was apprehended for drunken driving in Framingham, Massachusetts, over the weekend when he had a near collision with a Framingham police officer outside the Chicken Bone Saloon a block from his Framingham home. “I think I will call the White House,” Uncle Obama said when the the arresting officer offered him his one phone call. He apparently hadn’t heard that his nephew was vacationing over in the Vineyard.

The Boston Herald reports that immigration authorities had been on the lookout for Uncle Obama and found him after he was busted for drunk driving. Uncle Obama too was subject to a pending deportation order. He’s currently locked up in Plymouth County Jail on an immigration warrant. He too is residing illegally in the United States, though the Herald also reports that he has possessed a valid Massachusetts driver’s license and Social Security number since at least 1992. He appears to be doing well, though the news reports have not yet identified the sources of Uncle Obama’s financial support.

Unlike President Carter’s embarrassing brother Billy, we can learn something from the Onyangos. They make for an interesting case study. What can we learn from them? Nothing that isn’t obvious, and nothing that hasn’t been said a million times before, but at least a few things which are worth noting or reiterating.

The (non)enforcement of our immigration laws is a bad joke. It infringes American sovereignty, and in some cases Americans pay several times over for illegal aliens whose modest efforts at avoidance allow them to escape enforcement of the laws. It is absurdly easy to acquire the trappings of legal residence.

The sources of Uncle Obama’s support are unclear. We know that Aunt Zeituni, however, lived on the dole while residing illegally in the United States, indeed while subject to a deportation order. Aunt Zeituni makes a mockery of the rhetoric of the social safety net that is hauled out to support the apparatus of the welfare state. Most Americans do not take kindly to the notion that they are supporting aliens who reside here illegally.

What did President Obama know, and when did he know it? Now that he knows she is here, is he lending her a hand? One wonders if he figures that it’s tough enough to support his own immediate family.

Uncle Obama is represented in his immigration case by the same lawyer who represented Aunt Zeituni. One suspects that his immigration case will also have a happy ending, at least for him. Why not?

Unlike any other country in the world, the United States continues to be a magnet for immigrants from all over the world. Even in the midst of our current hard times, life here is good. Is this a great country, or what?

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