On December 3, 2013, President Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, was allowed to become a permanent resident of the United States. News reports, as nearly always happens, are not entirely accurate in their explanation of events and the law (there is an old adage that the more a reader knows about a topic, the more a newspaper account is wrong), I will read between the lines and try to lay out what happened.
It appears Mr. Obama (the uncle), came to the United States in 1963 as a student. Once he stopped attending school, his student status lapsed and he became subject to removal. In the 1980′s he sought to remain in the United States through applying for permanent residence, but the application was denied because he lied on his forms about working – presumably he wrote that he did not work when he did. It is not said exactly what he applied for. As there is no mention of his having a spouse or children, it was probably not through marriage to a U.S. citizen or an adult (age 21 or older) United States citizen child that he sought adjustment of status. As the big legalization/amnesty program began in the late 1980′s, it is possible it was through amnesty that he sought residence and was denied for lying on the forms. If this was what happened, it was a pretty dumb move lying on the forms as among the requirements for the amnesty he sought was that he had been in the United States from before January 1, 1982, and that he be illegal. Covering up illegality would have been unnecessary or even counter-productive to getting granted amnesty. (more…)