President Obama's illegal-alien uncle -- busted in 2011 for drunken driving -- is banking on the strength of his moral character to help him win permanent resident status in the U.S., agreeing yesterday to a Dec. 3 immigration-court date before the same judge who granted asylum to his sister.
Onyango Obama, a Kenyan national who was ordered deported in 1992, is fighting to stay here under a federal immigration law that allows permanent residence for illegal aliens who entered the U.S. before 1972 and have demonstrated "good moral character."
"Everybody wants to stay in America," Obama's lawyer, Scott Bratton, said. "Hopefully on Dec. 3, the judge will agree he's entitled to permanent residence in the United States."
The strategy was revealed during a five-minute hearing in immigration court yesterday before Judge Leonard I. Shapiro -- the President George H.W. Bush appointee who granted asylum to Zeituni Onyango in 2010.
Obama declined to say what he thinks of his nephew's new immigration-reform plan, which offers illegal immigrants a shot at citizenship.
"He doesn't want to talk to anybody about any of the aspects of that," Bratton said. "Immigration reform is coming, and hopefully it will help a lot of people."
Obama got his hearing nearly a year before other applicants who came up in court yesterday. Some were pushed off as far in the future as September 2014.
But Boston immigration attorney Desmond FitzGerald said that's likely because of the case's simplicity, not preferential treatment.
"It tells us the case has very clear issues that will not likely take a tremendous amount of time in order to have it adjudicated," said FitzGerald, who is not working on Obama's case. "Very likely, the judge will be able to render a decision the day he hears the case."
Obama, the half-brother of President Obama's late father, had been living quietly in Framingham and working as a liquor-store clerk until his arrest on drunken-driving charges in 2011. The case was continued without a finding.
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