May 19th, 2010
03:51 PM ET
13 years ago

Second grader grills Michelle Obama

Washington (CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama faced a tough policy question Wednesday from an unlikely source - a second-grader.

During a visit to a Washington-area school with Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala, a student concerned about her mother's legal status asked Michelle Obama about her husband's immigration policies.

"My mom said, I think that she says that, Barack Obama is going to take away everybody that doesn't have papers," the young girl told the first lady.

The unscripted moment was sandwiched between examples of Michelle Obama's signature policy initiatives - a lesson on healthy eating and an exercise session - and forced the first lady to walk the fine line of immigration reform policy language.

"Yeah, well, that's something that we have to work on, right? To make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? That's exactly right," she said.

The girl replied, "But, my mom doesn't have any."

"[W]ell we have to work on that, we have to fix that and everybody's got to work together in Congress to make sure that happens. That's right," Obama said before moving to the next question.

Dana Tofig, a spokesman for Montgomery County, Maryland, schools, said the district would not identify the student and does "not ask about the immigration status of our students and their families."

"There was a Supreme Court decision that makes it clear that if there's proof of residency in the county, then we educate the child," he said.

"And we're not going to identify the student or her parents," he said. "We protect the identity of our students."

The exchange happened in a school gymnasium, but immigration took center stage in Washington on Wednesday as President Obama welcomed his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, to the White House.

Both leaders used the occasion - the fourth time they have met for bilateral talks - to take sharp aim at Arizona's controversial new law meant to crack down on illegal immigrants. Calderon characterized the measure as discriminatory; Obama called it a "misdirected expression of frustration."

Obama also repeated his call for comprehensive immigration reform.

Updated: 8:52 p.m.

Filed under: Immigration • Michelle Obama • Popular Posts
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. David

    You know the 2nd grader was schooled to ask that question....

    May 19, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Len Smith

    Why do people think that illegal immigrants get the same benefits of an American citizen. THEY DO NOT. You can blame a lot of it on small business that hires them and pays them off the books. What cold hearted people there are in this country. I, however, believe that something must be done, but I as an average American born here and lived here for 67 years do not know the answer, but at least I have a heart.

    May 19, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Elka

    When all of us start mowing our lawns and our kids take jobs instead of playing video games and hanging aimlessly at the malls, illegal immigrants will be gone. When we start cleaning hotel rooms and wash dishes in the restaurants instead of waiting for the jobs to come back from China, illegal immigrants will be gone. When we agree to pay more at the grocery store illegal immigrants will be gone. But stop the hypocrisy where one hand is chasing them out and the other welcomes them back in.

    May 19, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. Brian

    Dave, well said. If most of these "kick em out" people had a clue. Sure let's kick out all the illegals. Close the borders, goes for Canada too. Let's stop trading with all other countries who needs their business, surely not the U.S.

    I don't see the great State of AZ going after the businesses and colleges that brought most of them here in the first place.

    May 19, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. Matt

    I don't get this whole "the majority will soon be the minority" thing. Currently every statistic I've seen says that "non hispanic white's" are roughly 70% of the country and that includes Illegal estimates. So what you are saying is that "soon" there will be a 21% increase in the minority population overtaking the majority. There are still thousands of "whites" that migrate to the country every year and as far as I know "white" people still have children. Anyone with any common sense whatsoever can tell that in no time soon will the "minority be the majority". Even so what does that matter? If people think this is some kind of conspiracy to keep immigrants out by the majority then they need to take off the tin foil hats and get with reality.

    May 19, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. kam

    Mae, I think you hit it on the head. It's easy to spew venom and hatred at the folks that compromise the bottom of this country's economy, when it is the upper 1% of this country that is actually screwing with us. Have you all forgotten how the super wealthy almost took this country down the toilet just a short time ago. And we still haven't crawled out of the pipe.
    Those without a voice are so much easier to attack. Yes, illegal immigration is a problem, but the vitriol being vomited on this blog is alarming and counterproductive. The immigration policies in this country aren't going to change into anything worhtwhile until the red hot hate of the right as well as 'bleeding heart liberals' step back and take a breath. There is an answer, goodness knows I don't pretend to know what it is, but it is there. But we can't find it until we all calm down.

    May 19, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Hey man got papers?

    I remember the good old days when someone came up to you on Haight Asbry and asked if you had any papers ..... and if you did, you both got stoned.

    May 19, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. themoi

    No papers–you can't stay. Deport Mom and her sprog and the rest of the family. NOW. IMMEDIATELY. They and their ilk are bleeding this country dry.

    May 19, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    One..they are here illegally and should be sent home. Two...not all are Mexican/South American, there are several other nations involved as well. is becoming an economic burden to support these people who are not and have not contributed to our systems. Four...If we are going to "take care of the world" (seems like the same bunch was crying that we were trying too not too long ago), then why do we not anex everyone and tax them at our rates and pay our fees and fit to our laws including EPA, ACLU, OSHA, Sierra Clube, building codes, social services, etc,etc?? We can not "take care" of groups of people because it is fashionable. Look at the ones that have "we" have taken care of: American Indian, American Blacks, Palestinians and many of the islands. Doesn't work guys!!

    May 19, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. jessica

    I believe if u want to be here
    Then be here legally. Pay taxes
    Pay ur way. Do not come to america and
    Hit tha foodstamp office ur firstday here.
    Work hard and become legal. Its not fair to those who go
    About it the proper way.
    We as a country need to be strong and NOT let people in here
    Who want to break and bend the rules.

    May 19, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. Wendy

    Mexicans are welcome to come to our country and live the American Dream. But they need to come here legally so we they don't risk bringing in ill-managed diseases and criminal activity. It's completely unfair to those people that do it right: come here legally. Just say NO to illegal aliens that are breaking many laws, sucking our tax dollars dry, and abusing America's kindness. California is bankrupt because the Mexicans have taken over and ruined that state.

    May 19, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Mikey

    I read with some amusement all the posts by people who seem to think we are somehow losing our country. I wish I know where such irrational fear comes from.

    However, I am sickened by the callous attitudes reflected in the posts of many "so called" Americans. Hate is NOT amusing at all.

    My only fear is that somehow all the hate filled fearfull people might actually start making the rules.

    May 19, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Rocco May 19th, 2010 4:33 pm ET

    Time to visit her house and deport her mom – and if her mom wants to tear her own family apart, let her make that decision. The government doesn't rip families apart (contrary to liberalspeak), it is the families themselves that break themselves up

    I see, that's why Elian Gonzalez was torn from the arms of a family that loved him at gunpoint in a closet and shipped back to Castro and his father to be put through a Communist regime of brainwashing, RIGHT? You neo-cons just never seem to remember the truth do you...sigh..

    May 19, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
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