President Barack Obama’s illegal-alien uncle will get a new deportation hearing.
The news comes 26 years after immigration judges first ordered Onyango Obama to return to Kenya. Since 1986, he has avoided two other deportation orders from 1989 and 1992.
Law enforcement officials only discovered Obama was in violation of the orders when he was arrested for drunk driving in August 2011.
While most illegal aliens found violating deportation orders are deported, Immigration and Customs officials released Obama from immigration detention following his arrest. Since his release, Obama acquired a federal work permit and a Massachusetts hardship driver’s license, and has been working at a liquor store.
The 68-year-old has illegally lived in the United States since 1963. He originally arrived to study at a private boys’ school and was supposed to return to his native country by Dec. 24, 1970.
The Board of Immigration Appeals reportedly agreed to reopen Obama’s immigration case, in part, because of his claim that his previous lawyer did not effectively represent his case, according to a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Boston Globe.
Immigration court records are typically sealed, so it is unclear what additional evidence the board may have reviewed to make its decision.
The Globe noted the move to reopen the case surprised some immigration lawyers.
Crystal Williams, executive director of the Washington-based American Immigration Lawyers Association, characterized the decision as “pretty unusual.”
Obama’s new lawyers may argue that, because of their client’s relation to the president, it would be unsafe for him to return to Kenya.
Obama is the half-brother of President Obama’s late father. The president’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, was also found violating a deportation order before he won election in 2008. In 2010, she was granted asylum partly because of public attention her case garnered.