It was an out-of-nowhere, last-minute potential glitch in Barack Obama's road to destiny.
In the waning days before the November election, reports emerged that an aunt had been living in public housing in Boston -- despite an immigration judge's order to leave the country four years earlier. Three days before Election Day, Obama was forced to deny any knowledge that he knew that Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's late father, was in the country illegally.
Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the Bush administration issued a directive from the Homeland Security Department requiring high-level approval before federal immigration agents can arrest fugitives -- an order that made clear that officials worried about the implications on the election and the "negative media or congressional interest" that might follow Onyango's arrest.
With Obama now in the White House, his administration is pledging to take another look at the directive, the AP reports. Here's an excerpt of its story:
"A copy of the directive, "Fugitive Case File Vetting Prior to Arrest," was released to the AP just over two months after it was requested under the Freedom of Information Act. It does not mention President Obama or any members of his extended family.
"The directive is still in place, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told the AP. It originally was distributed Oct. 31 by e-mail to immigration officers by an assistant director at the agency. Obama was elected president five days later. Nantel said the directive called for close supervision over any cases that could be high profile. She said it was not specific to Obama's relatives.
"The White House said late Sunday that the Obama administration wasn't briefed on why the directive was issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and will consider whether to overturn it."
UPDATE: The AP is now reporting that the rule was rescinded at the end of November by the Homeland Security Department, which initially told the AP it was still in place.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.