.- With just hours to go before the U.S. election, Sen. Barack Obama has dared to comment on the politically sensitive subject of immigration, saying that he supports the deportation of his aunt, who has illegally been living in the U.S. for the last four years.
In an interview with CBS News' Katie Couric on Sunday, Obama said: "If she is violating laws those laws have to be obeyed. We're a nation of laws. Obviously that doesn't lessen my concern for her, I haven't been able to be in touch with her. But I'm a strong believer you have to obey the law."
Obamaâs reaction comes after the Associated Press revealed last Friday that his half aunt, Zeituni Onyango, is living in public housing in Boston after having been denied political asylum and told to leave the country by a federal immigration judge in 2004.
The AP also discovered that Onyango had donated $260 in small amounts to the Obama campaign, which is illegal for non-U.S. citizens to do under campaign finance law. The Obama campaign has announced it is returning the money.
The plight of Obamaâs aunt raises the situation of immigrants to the national stage at the eleventh hour of the election campaign.
Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, who is an American citizen with a Hispanic background, recently addressed the national debate surrounding immigration, calling it âbad for the soul of America.â
âThere is too much anger. Too much resentment. Too much fear. Too much hate. Itâs eating people up. And itâs just no good for people to be consumed by fear and hate. Itâs no good for their souls. And itâs no good for our country, my friends,â Archbishop Gomez said at the Missouri Catholic Conference in early October.
Archbishop Gomez also lamented that American laws at the state and federal level are beginning to âreflect these kind of fears and resentments.â
âI donât know how many anti-immigrant laws have been enacted this year. Iâve lost track. The last I heard, it was something like 200 new laws in 40 states. And thatâs just this year. In 2007, I believe there were 240 new laws in 46 states,â Gomez stated.
This ânational crisis,â Gomez said, âcalls for national leadership. I understand that the presidential candidates donât want to touch this issue before the election. â¦ But this is the hard work of democracy. As soon as this election is over and a new government sworn in, we need to insist that our leaders roll up their sleeves and get to work on comprehensive immigration reform.â
Obamaâs stand on whether or not his aunt should be deported could cost him votes within the Latino electorate, which views him as having a Latino-friendly stand on immigration.