As president, Mr. Obama has kept his distance from, and even failed to acknowledge, members of this eclectic clan. In the time-honored tradition of eccentric presidential relatives, the assorted Obamas have faced deportation and drunken-driving charges, started Obama-branded foundations and written memoirs.
But they also made for a powerful element of the president’s Kansas-meets-Kenya narrative as a candidate who could connect different worlds. ...
But I hadn't known this:
In 2000, Ms. Onyango moved to the United States on a valid visa, and in 2001, when Mr. Obama was an Illinois state senator, she helped take care of his newborn daughter, Sasha, and did household chores for the family in Chicago, according to Obama family members. But she stayed illegally after unsuccessfully seeking asylum. When reporters found her in Boston public housing during the 2008 election, Mr. Obama’s aides said he did not know she was in the United States illegally and returned her $265 in campaign contributions.
In 2010, she received asylum and celebrated by telling an interviewer: “President Obama, I’m his aunt. If he does a wrong thing, I’m the only person on earth allowed to pinch his ears and smack him.”