White House Misled Press: Obama Knew and Lived With Uncle Who Was Here Illegally

Onyango Obama was granted a green card Tuesday after living in U.S. illegally for 43 years.

Onyango Obama, left, is seen at a Jan. 12, 2012, court hearing in Framingham, Mass., after being arrested for drunk driving. The White House acknowledged for the first time Thursday that the president knew his uncle.

Onyango Obama, left, is seen at a court hearing in Framingham, Mass., after being arrested for drunk driving. The White House acknowledged for the first time Thursday that the president knew his uncle.

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The White House admitted Thursday it misinformed the press about President Barack Obama's relationship with his uncle, Onyango "Omar" Obama, a Kenyan citizen awarded a green card Tuesday after living in the U.S. illegally for 43 years.

Despite originally claiming they never met, the White House now says the president lived with his uncle briefly after moving to Massachusetts in 1988 to attend Harvard Law School.

The elder Obama, 69, famously told police "I think I will call the White House" in August 2011 after an arrest for drunk driving in Framingham, Mass. The Boston Globe reported in January 2012 the White House claimed the two men never met.

The relationship was unknown to nearly everyone. A 2011 Washington Post report relayed that "[s]cholars who have studied Obama's family said they do not think he has ever met his uncle Omar."

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The White House's clarification Thursday, attributed to spokesman Eric Schultz, says:

"The president did stay with him for a brief period of time until his apartment was ready. After that, they saw each other once every few months, but after law school they fell out of touch. The president has not seen him in 20 years, has not spoken with him in 10."

The Boston Globe first reported the reversal.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during the daily White House press briefing Thursday the mix-up was the result of miscommunication.

"No one had spoken to the president" before making the original claim, Carney said. "I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him."

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The disclosure comes after Onyango Obama said Tuesday at an immigration hearing that his nephew lived with him in the 1980s.

During that hearing immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro granted the president's uncle – whose visa expired in 1970 – legal residency in the U.S.

"He appears to me to be a gentleman and I'm inclined to grant his application on that basis," Shapiro said, according to Reuters. The same judge granted Obama's aunt Zeituni Onyango, also in the country illegally, asylum in 2010.

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