Updated: September 9, 2011, 3:45PM
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is accusing President Barack Obama of a “double standard” because his uncle, an illegal immigrant, was released from prison after he was arrested from driving under the influence.
Obama’s uncle Onyango Obama was arrested in Massachusetts last month, charged with failing to yield, operating a motor vehicle to endanger and a DUI.
In a statement released on Friday, Smith tied the arrest to Obama’s recent changes to deportation policy, saying his “illegal immigrant uncle might be one of the first illegal immigrants to benefit from it.” The Department of Homeland Security announced the changes on Aug. 18; Obama’s uncle wasn’t arrested until Aug. 24. Smith’s press released continued:
President Obama’s uncle is a test case for why this new policy is a threat to the American people. President Obama’s backdoor amnesty allows drunk-driving illegal immigrants like his uncle to remain in the U.S.
“Why should citizens and legal immigrants be threatened by drunk driving illegal immigrants when the administration can deport them?” Smith asked.
“It appears there is a double standard — one for President Obama’s family and one for everyone else,” Smith said. “Last year, President Obama’s illegal immigrant aunt was granted asylum and now his illegal immigrant uncle has been released from ICE custody, even though he was arrested by authorities for drunk driving.”
Not quite that simple. Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango was granted asylum — by a Republican-appointed immigration judge — only because somebody leaked information about her immigration status days before the 2008 presidential election. As of March, the Office of Professional Responsibility at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had an “ongoing law enforcement investigation” into who leaked the information.
As for Obama’s uncle, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Sept. 1 that Obama “became aware of this story when I walked into his office and among other subjects mentioned it to him, and it was new to him on Monday.” Carney said they “expect it to be handled like any other immigration case.”
Obama had referenced his uncle in his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father, calling him “the uncle who had left for America 25 years ago and had never come back.”
[Correction: Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro was appointed, not nominated, by Republican President George H.W. Bush.]