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President Barack Obama's aunt, an illegal immigrant from Kenya, pleaded for political asylum before a Boston court Thursday in a case that risks embarrassing the embattled president.

Zeituni Onyango, 57, arrived at the Boston federal immigration court in her second attempt to secure asylum after ignoring a 2004 deportation order.

Defense attorney Margaret Wong said Onyango would "testify and there will be two other witnesses," both doctors.

"They're probably going to try to prevent the deportation because of medical issues," Wong said. "But we have more than one ground."

Wong said that Onyango would plead to be allowed to stay in the United States citing "tribal violence" in Kenya.

It was not clear whether Judge Leonard Shapiro would make a ruling at Thursday's closed-door hearing.

Wong said that Onyango would appeal if ordered deported. The US government also has the right of appeal.

The case puts Obama in a delicate position at a time when he is reeling from his Democratic party's failure to pass health care reform legislation and a surge in momentum for the opposition Republicans.


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