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Obama's Uncle Gets Hardship License, Faces Possible Deportation

BOSTON (CBS) - President Barack Obama's uncle has been granted a hardship driver's license, just a week after he lost his license for 45 days in a drunken driving case.

The license allows 67-year-old Onyango Obama to drive from noon to midnight so he can get to work at a liquor store in Framingham, where he is a manager.

Registry spokeswoman Sara Lavoie told WBZ-TV the license was granted Monday after a hearing at the Wilmington branch.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz reports


"In general, hearing officers weigh a driver's record, specific offense and the hardship asserted by that driver. In this instance, the driver also provided the necessary documentation to receive a hardship license-- proof of enrollment in an alcohol treatment program and a letter from his employer," Lavoie said in a statement.

Read: Obama Letter (.pdf)

Obama is the half-brother of the president's late father. He was arrested in Framingham in August 2011 after a police officer claimed Obama made a rolling stop at a stop sign and nearly caused his cruiser to crash into Obama's SUV.

He then registered 0.14 on a blood-alcohol test, according to police. The legal limit in Massachusetts is 0.08.

Obama pleaded to sufficient facts in the case last week. By agreeing to the continuance without a finding, Obama avoids pleading guilty to drunk driving and the charge will be dismissed, if he stays out of trouble for one year.

Obama's arrest last year also caught the attention of immigration investigators who claim he violated a 1992 order to return to Kenya.

His case is still before the immigration court. A person familiar with the case says Onyango Obama is required to appear at the Immigrations and Customs Office next week to discuss arrangement's for his removal from the United States.

"Now that Mr. Onyango's criminal case has completed, ICE has communicated, in accordance with standard procedure, with the attorney of record regarding his removal pursuant to a previous final order by an immigration judge," Brian P. Hale, Director of Public Affairs for ICE said in a statement.

Some drivers are outraged. One man said, "I think it's disgraceful. If they're illegal they're illegal. They shouldn't have the same rights as people who are here legally."

Another told us, "I really do not appreciate the fact he got a license, he is supposedly an illegal alien, and he shouldn't be driving in the first place."

We brought these questions to the head of the RMV, Rachel Kaprielian, who tells says her focus is on licenses.

"Matters of immigration are law enforcement matters and matters that pertain to federal laws," says Kaprielian. "In this case this applicant met the rules and regulations of the Registry of Motor Vehicles in his application for a hardship license." She says his case also met the RMV rules years ago when he applied for his license.

Some believe Onyango Obama, who had a clean record until his August drunk driving arrest, should be given another chance to stay. One driver says, "This is America and we've got to give everyone a chance and just because they are illegally in this country, this country was founded on rights for everyone."

WBZ-TV's Karen Anderson contributed to this report.

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