In November, the Board of Immigration Appeals granted him a new hearing based in part on his claim that his prior lawyer, now dead, was ineffective. His lawyers have also pointed out that he has lived in the United States for most of his life, since he arrived almost 50 years ago as a young man to attend an elite boys’ school in Cambridge.
Judge Shapiro, a Republican appointee, is a veteran immigration judge who also handled the deportation case of the president’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango. He granted her asylum in 2010 based in part on the exposure of her case to the media.
Onyango, a former computer programmer from Kenya, had been living illegally in the United States in Boston public housing when her status was leaked to the media just before President Obama became the first black president in 2008.
The uncle’s hearing comes one day after President Obama called for a path to US citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, as long as they don’t have serious criminal records. The president was not close to his father’s side of the family. His father died in a car accident in Kenya in 1982.
Critics have said that Onyango Obama, who is the president’s father’s half-brother, appears to be getting special treatment. He was released from immigration detention quickly after his arrest, despite the outstanding deportation order, and then secured a federal work permit and a state hardship driver’s license, since his own was temporarily revoked, so that he could return to work at a liquor store.
After his arrest, Framingham police said, Obama told them: “I think I will call the White House.”