Citing Fear Of Torture, Obama’s Second Cousin Seeks Asylum In US
It is unclear whether George Were Obama is President Barack Obama’s second cousin once removed or second cousin twice removed.
What is clear is that George wants to be zero times removed from the U.S.
Obama is 36 years old and has spent the last eight or nine months in the Rapphannock Regional Facility in Stafford, Va., according to his sister, as his appeal for withholding of removal sits before the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Denied relief most recently on Nov. 6, Obama, who has been in the U.S. since 1997, hopes he can stay in the U.S., claiming he would serve as a high-profile target for al-Shabaab, the Somali terror group whose leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was assassinated via U.S. drone strike on Sept. 1.
Though based in Somalia, al-Shabaab, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaida in 2012, is active in Kenya, where the group has carried out several attacks, including one on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in Sept. 2013, in which 67 people were killed.
Obama initially applied for asylum, filing what’s called an I-589 form. But the application must be filed within a year of the applicant’s arrival in the U.S., which Obama failed to do.
On top of that, Obama has what are called “negative equities” on his record, including DUIs and other crimes.
Though Obama also has a wife and child who are U.S. citizens, an Arlington immigration court judge denied his asylum request on Nov. 6. The proceeding took place in an open courtroom, but was not covered by the media at the time.
Marc Harrold, Obama’s Arlington, Va.-based immigration attorney, is appealing that decision.
He says that Obama should be granted non-discretionary relief – withholding of removal or protection – under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
Relief under the U.N. convention can be granted to individuals who fear persecution or torture upon return to a particular country. The relevant legal standard, according to Harrold, is whether it is “more likely than not” that Obama would face such threats.
Harrold believes Obama’s risk for targeting is high.
“George Obama is situated differently than any of the President’s other family members in Kenya,” Harrold told The Daily Caller.
“That he was specifically removed by the federal government after identifying a specific, perceived threat from al-Shabaab would make him an attractive target for al-Shabaab,” Harrold said, citing other terror groups’ recent high-profile assassinations, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s beheading of Americans.
“Al-Shabaab has threatened the US., generally, and the President, specifically,” Harrold continued. “Persecuting or torturing a family member of the President who was recently returned to Kenya by the Executive Branch of the federal government led by the President would be a military and propaganda windfall for al-Shabaab.”
This is not the first time an immigration judge has ordered an Obama family member’s removal from the U.S. Obama’s half-aunt, Zeituni Onyango, came to the U.S. from Kenya in 2000. She applied for asylum in 2002 but was ordered removed on 2004. She remained in the U.S., living in Boston. When her lapsed immigration status was brought to attention during then-Illinois U.S. Sen. Obama’s 2008 presidential bid, it sparked a media firestorm.
Onyango appealed the initial removal decision and was granted asylum in 2010. Her attorney, Margaret Wong, made an argument similar to George Obama’s – that Onyango should be granted relief because of her high-profile relative.
Onyango died earlier this year.
TheDC reached out to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, which handles asylum cases. The agency did not respond to a request for comment.
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