Onyango Obama of Framingham has a drunken driving case, a deportation order, and a half-nephew who is president of the United States. So when, this week, an immigration appeals court granted a new hearing for the Kenyan-born liquor store employee so that he might avoid going back to a country in which he hasn’t lived for 50 years, some eyebrows were raised. They needn’t have been: There’s no evidence of any special treatment for the 68-year-old Obama, who is half-brother of the president’s late father. And after a half-century in the United States, the man deserves every chance to plead his case.
The court ruled that Obama’s case may have been prejudiced by inadequate legal counsel, without elaborating. The claim may have stemmed from his failure to challenge an earlier deportation order. If he had obtained legal status at that time, the drunken-driving offense in 2011 would not have required him to leave the country. The court will now hear whether Obama’s case was prejudiced by his lawyer’s mistake.