The Corner

A Nation of Men, Not Laws

With all the mosque argy-bargy these past few days, an atrocity of at least equal magnitude has been too little commented-on. I took a swing at it in this weekend’s Radio Derb:

You’ll recall that Obama’s Aunt Zeituni Onyango was granted asylum in the U.S.A. three months ago after a hearing before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The Hearing Officer was Leonard Shapiro, up there in Boston.

Well, the Boston Globe has been giving us some details of Judge Shapiro’s reasoning, details winkled out of the Justice Department via a Freedom of Information Act request. Reading the Globe report, you can see why the government would much rather not have released these details. Judge Shapiro’s reasoning is, not to put too fine a point on it, a blazing disgrace to the American legal profession.

It is now perfectly plain that Aunt Zeituni received preferential treatment because of her connection to Obama. Her asylum claim is utterly without merit, and Judge Shapiro’s adjudication of it demonstrates beyond doubt that we live in a nation not of laws, but of men — and men’s aunts.

Remember, please, the history of the case. Aunt Zeituni came to the U.S.A. on a tourist visa in 2000. When the visa expired she just stayed. In December 2002 she applied for asylum, but was denied and ordered deported. She ignored the court order and re-applied for asylum in 2004; that application was also rejected, and again she ignored the order of the court.

Then in the run-up to the 2008 election, the London Times did a little — what’s it called? oh yes: journalism — and tracked down Aunt Zeituni to a public housing project in Boston. Not only was she illegally in the country, she was living off the American taxpayer. When the Associated Press asked the Bush administration to confirm the story — a story, just to remind you, that had been uncovered by a British newspaper, the American press corps being determined to do nothing that might hurt the chances of the presidential candidate they unanimously favored — when the AP asked the government to confirm the story, an anonymous official did so. Judge Shapiro says this was an outrage. It was, said the judge, quote, “a reckless and illegal violation of her right to privacy which has exposed her to great risk.”

How it did that is not clear. If A suspects that B is in the country illegally, and A asks the government if this is so, and a government official says yes, it is so, where did someone do something wrong? The only fault of the government here is in failing to deport the person illegally resident. At a stretch, a great stretch, you might argue there’d been a violation of the 1974 Privacy Act; but even then, you’d still have to show why such a violation is germane to an asylum application.

As to the “great risk,” what on earth is Judge Shapiro talking about? Obama’s relatives are treated like royalty in Kenya. There is no known instance of any of Obama’s many, many, many relatives in Kenya being persecuted at all.

Worse yet, Judge Shapiro acknowledged that Aunt Zeituni’s claims of fear of persecution in her previous applications were all lies. Quote: “Onyango’s testimony in February was sometimes confusing and inconsistent with what she said during her last request for asylum six years ago,” end quote.

Yes, Aunt Zeituni is a flagrant liar as well as a flagrant scofflaw. Yet Shapiro still allowed this latest claim.

There is no evidence that anything that’s happened to Aunt Zeituni since 2004 made her any kind of a target for persecution in Kenya. It is just something she claims — something she plucked out of the air, with no supporting evidence whatsoever. In a previous claim she said she had health problems that made her unable to walk. She did indeed show up to the February hearing in a wheelchair; but then she mysteriously walked out. She strolls around her Boston neighborhood, flaunting the expensive designer accessories she seems to have a fondness for.

Judge Shapiro’s findings are a disgrace. The only evidentiary foundation for them is unsubstantiated claims made by an applicant the judge himself acknowledges to have lied at previous hearings.

This whole case is a shame and a scandal. Zeituni Onyango has been given special treatment because of her relation to the president. She had failed to obey previous court orders, was a fugitive from justice, living off the public fisc; yet she was permitted to reopen a previously denied asylum case years afterward. How often does that happen?

I’ll save you the trouble of researching it: it never happens. It happened in this case because of who she is, in outrageous disregard of all law, rules, and precedent. If the citizens of Boston have the spleen their ancestors had, they will tar and feather Leonard Shapiro and run him out of town on a rail.

Oh, and speaking of precedent: What would normally happen with such a highly questionable decision as this, is that the Department of Homeland Security would file an appeal of Judge Shapiro’s farcical decision. Will the DHS actually do so? Don’t hold your breath.

Meanwhile, here’s a prediction: Judge Shapiro’s career prospects under the Obama administration are very bright. I’d say we’re looking at a future Supreme Court Justice here.

Some listeners have emailed in to tell me that Judge Shapiro is old enough not to be nursing much hope of future prospects of any sort. Feugh! If Betty White can be signing book deals at 88, seventysomething Judge Shapiro can be plotting his next career moves.

An even more persnickety reader advises me that the ruling in question was not really judicial. Judge Shapiro was acting only in the capacity of a Hearing Officer. Feugh! again. He’s a judge, isn’t he? The filthy deed got done, didn’t it?


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