May 19th, 2010
03:51 PM ET
11 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. Mike

    Hopefully the DHS sent someone over to the mother's house to deport her.

    May 19, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. cheskat

    For all of you who feel you're "legal", do this. Trace a family history for yourself. If you can't find a record of when one of your ancestors entered the country, then you yourself are descended from illegals. You might be shocked what you find out about your own family.

    May 19, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. DownTownBrown

    "My mommy doesn't have any pap-" First lady Obama should have taken her down with a chokehold right then and there. We gotta get these illegals out of our schools so our white kids can drop out easier.

    May 19, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. NVa Native

    Of course the Republicans loved the cheap labor up thru the Bush/Cheney regime. (Rember Dubya was for reform and not sending them home) Then when the Repubs destroy our economy they need a scape-goat to distract their sheeple and then cry and whine about "all these Mexicans need to go home" – partys over.
    The only reason they are here is for work. Now you Repubs (and some Dems) have to pay for your selfish greed you have a responsibility to these people who you think of as only cheap labor or as parasites – it's part of the Repub legacy.
    It's got everything with "right and wrong".

    May 19, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Funny (total shocker actually, all sarcasm intended) how Count Baracula and the media don't report THIS:
    Plate of Steaming LIBERAL HYPOCRISY anyone?
    Mexicans here and in Mexico are rather upset by the recent enactment of stricter anti-illegal alien laws by Arizona 's governor.

    In light of the following, that position demonstrates the typical double standard used by race-hustlers and assorted something-for-nothings. Read on, and read it to the end.

    New Immigration Laws: Read to the bottom or YOU WILL MISS THE MESSAGE...

    1 There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    2. All ballots will be in this nation's language.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    3. All government business will be conducted in our language.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    4. Non-residents will NOT have the right to vote no matter how long they are here.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    5. Non-citizens will NEVER be able to hold political office

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    6 Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers. No welfare, no food stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs. Any burden will be deported.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    7. Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount at least equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    8. If foreigners come here and buy land... options will be restricted. Certain parcels including waterfront property are reserved for citizens naturally born into this country.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    9.. Foreigners may have no protests; no demonstrations, no waving of a foreign flag, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. These will lead to deportation.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    10. If you do come to this country illegally, you will be actively hunted &, when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged. All assets will be taken from you.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Too strict?......

    The above laws are the current immigration laws of MEXICO !!!

    WAKE UP, AMERICA – we are about to lose our country..........

    May 19, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. VAVoter

    To the King: You said, "Mommy got no papers?? Put her in an Acme catapult and fire her back to La Cucarachaland. As for the little girl, ship her to a textile mill and let her start earning her keep. I have no sympathy for any of these intruders."

    Cease referring to yourself as the King...If there was ever a king in you, you just killed him with your comment.

    May 19, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. Bill

    Stetson you are a complete fool. People who are not citizens of this country have alway had to have at least a passport, possibly a VISA and a green card depending on where they came from and why they are here. Ya know YOU have to have a passport and sometimes a visa to go abroad..... (that means into another country).... Take your Nazi comment and try using it for something other than your brain.

    May 19, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. truebob

    Man, I can't believe all of the hate mongering going on. All of this jingoism sound like Germay as the holocaust was kicking off. "They're stealing our jobs!" "They are undermining the social structure of OUR great country" The people coming here are by far doing so to escape the oppression and poverty of their home, leaving behind everything they know so their CHILDREN can have a better life. This is supposed to be Christian nation, well what would Jesus do? Hypocrites. This nation was built on the industriousness of immigrants, people who have the drive and guts to get off of their A55 and do something to get ahead. I wish half of you were that motivated to make things better instead of "I got mine, keep it all!!"

    May 19, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "When did I start living and voting in Nazi America?"

    Your first clue should have been the Patriot Act.

    May 19, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. Caesar the Great

    All I ask is what other country in the civilized world can I go to and be an illegal and get all the same benefits of a citizen?

    May 19, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Realist

    I don't think calling someone an illegal immigrant is right ... one because every time I see a school or business being built in the scolding hot sun or the freezing cold weather I don't hear anyone calling mexicans "illegal immigrants" then. They build our building and work for less which is not right so how can we tell them they are breaking the law when we as citizens are breaking our own law paying someone 2 and 3 dollars an hour.

    Furthermore the fact that we still have racism and people being racist towards each other is sad due to the fact we are criticizing the way other countries cooperate .... How can we correct someone else's way of handling their country when we can even respect our own president because he is half black. We can't fix anything before we fix ourself

    May 19, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. fritz polosky

    Why does'nt somebody ask the president of Mexico how they handle illegal immigrants? perhaps we could learn something from them.

    May 19, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. rsathe

    While I agree that illegal immigration should be stopped I take exception to people implying how the previous generations of European immigrants were somehow better as they came here legally (via Ellis Island,etc.). My guess is if Italy (for example) had a shared border with the US back in the day, we would be overrun by illegals Italians. it's just the geography – not the people.

    May 19, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. Stetson McWinchester

    "Why not report on the illegals who commit violent crimes every day. "

    You ask that because that activity exemplifies every Hispanic currently residing in the US illegally? As an excuse to deport those who are different?

    Because every citizen that paints generalizations and racism as "security" and "legality" and sacrifices freedom for a white-picket fence monochrome future?

    You see a hispanic without papers as a tax drain instead of any human being? Throw them back to the wolves they came from?

    May 19, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. stacie

    Lana's not allowed to comment on this topic if she can't even spell illegal.

    "That littlle illigal should not have been born here." Lana, you make me sick! I bet you consider yourself pro-life, too!

    May 19, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. elo

    Veer are yor papers? the Nazi said.
    Original Illegals = PILGRIMS!
    Original Illegals = Christopher Columbus!
    Original Illgals = White People!

    I think the only non-illegals are Native Indians and African American people, who were hijacked into coming here.
    By the way,
    I am not Native Indian or Black.

    May 19, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. betty

    OK, all Americans that think that it's ok to drain funds from hard
    working legal Americans should be the ones to pay.. So send your
    money to that school for the illegal little girl to take home to her
    mother so she can become legal.. GIVE the money and then add the taxes and the money that you give from the kindness of your pocket book, add it up, and then we can talk..

    May 19, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Stetson McWinchester

    "All I ask is what other country in the civilized world can I go to and be an illegal and get all the same benefits of a citizen?"

    that's what makes this America, not the authoritarian government you want to vote into office.

    May 19, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Maybe you & gt could take an English class together "

    Yeah, in some other country where the public education system isn't an abysmal joke...because here, you'll just come out talking in some pigeon language we'll all eventually refer to as "twitter-speak" and wondering who Jefferson was because the TX Board of Edumacation forced text book manufacturers to downplay his role in...oh I dunno...writing the documents that formed out nation...because they can't stand that he can be cited all day and all night for proof that the Constitution is meant to separate church and state...and other inconvenient things they've decided they don't like about it (or him).

    May 19, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Turnabout is Fair Play

    stacia May 19th, 2010 4:30 pm ET

    Turnabout is Fair Play stated "You need to understand something, I'm pretty sure you are white or some variation there of and as such, have no more right to be here thanks to your decendents than the Mexicans do. Your decendants came over here from Europe, killed off the Native Americans and TOOK their land to claim as your own. If you want to experience true guilt and see how it feels, ask a Native American how they're doing on the reservations. It will shut your mouth and make you think about the crap most of you yelling ILLEGALS on the right are doing. As a side note, since Africans were brought over to the U.S by white slave traders against their will, African Americans and Native Americans have more right to be here than YOU do! Something to put in your Virginia Slims and smoke."
    Here is my reply. One of my great great grandmothers was at school in Scottland one day when a big ship pulled into port and asked the teacher if she would like to give the children a tour of the vessel. No sooner had she gotten on the boat, did the boat leave and head to America. Yes, a little white girl was also sold into slavery on american soil. It wasn't just the Africans. Get your facts straight and then yell at us mean horrible caucasians

    That's truly noble of you to give that unproven tidbit of historical information but the reality of it is, there was BOATLOADS of Africans brought over to the U.S., many of them died during the trip as they were packed like sardines into the holds of WHITE shipmasters and those who survived were dropped off in northern South America, the West Indies and Virginia as well as points south to name a few. There's no logical reason for a white child to be sold into slavery back in those days unless she was a Mulatto (look it up before you bark) and even then, I'm pretty sure she was treated more like a house negro as opposed to a "field negro". Nice try, but your argument truly is weak.

    May 19, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. Mexican President SHhld Go Home

    If the mexican Prez does not like Arizona's law or how his people are treated in the US maybe he shoud bring about 5 million busses to the US and take the 30 million illegals back home with him.

    Obama thinks more of appeasing a Mexican Prez than protecting his own borders and citizens - Pathetic

    May 19, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. Bob

    Common Sense – she is a tax drain because as far as many true American Citizens are concerned if her mom is illegal so should she be illegal also. Our system only works when more people are paying into the tax base then what is being taken out. It is wonderful to have business people like myself pay for all these free loading non-tax paying wellfare drains, but to be honest with you I am sick of carrying the burden and also I do not really see the return on my investment. Let's run America like free market enterprise it was formed to be – you cut the dead weight in a company because the dead weight is a drain on resources. Mrs. Obama's answer to the little girl should have been – "if your mom doens't like it she can leave"!

    May 19, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Bill

    Realist, and you think the rest of the world does not have racism? we are far more open here than in China, or Bosnia or even Mexico. Take a look at their immigration rules.... How about the Bosnian ethnic cleansing. Why must you hate the USA so much when there is far more happening in the world than here that is worthy of your hate?

    May 19, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. !Jab!

    45% of the people here illegally actually came here LEGALLY. Their visas just expired and they stayed. How does an American version of the Berlin wall fix that?

    May 19, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Too True For You

    @Captain Awesome 5:07 ET
    "Doesn't the Secret Service screen people for awkward moments like these? Or did they fail to do their job?"

    You are confused – that is a conservative propaganda policy started and perfected in the Bush administration, and today carried on by Palin's closed door mega dollar events.

    May 19, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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