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. John

    Time for those idots who support the Arizona law to put them selves in the liftle girl shoe and imagine how it feels. People who do not understand why people immigrate in the firs place has never away from their town and family. It time for congress to act.

    May 19, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Seeya

    Michelle should have responded...

    "Well Sweetheart, your Mom is breaking a law and we need to address that before we can issue papers....Where is she? "

    May 19, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. Johnny Five

    Unscripted my patooty!

    May 19, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Boston Dan

    Well maybe if her mom had DONE IT THE LEGAL WAY her daughter wouldn't have had to ask this question.
    I say too bad for the mom. Buh-bye!!

    May 19, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. Matt

    She should have asked about President Obama's papers.

    May 19, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Stacie

    Clearly this is a girl worried about her mother. The girl appears to be a US citizen because she didn't say "we don't have our papers". Can anyone who calls themselves a Christian allow a little girl to be separated from her mother just because the mother moved across a boarder?!?! This is a very simple WWJD question.

    May 19, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. Tim

    Sometimes the first lady is well spoken, but more often than not she does not come across well. An Ivy league educated lawyer - good grief. Maybe that guy in the news today that faked his way into Harvard may have upped the standards...

    May 19, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. 'Bama Grandma

    The children are suffering because of the actions of their parents. It is well past time to reform immigration laws, enforce our borders, implement a guest worker program and deny automatic citizenship to "anchor babies" born of illegal immigrants.

    May 19, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Right Leaning Independent

    Send them all home and let them come back legally!! I am happy to pay more for goods just like Dems always claim they are happy to pay more taxes!!

    May 19, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. rickymo

    We don'[t really need immigration reform. We need to enforce the laws we have...and by the way does anyone know the crime rate in AZ? The lowest since 1974...lies to force an agenda against people of color.

    May 19, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Dummy

    What an idiot? Is this person like a 2nd grader or something?!?!?!?!

    She will have the nutjobs in this country forming a lynchmob outside her home with torches and pitchforks ratting out her mother!

    May 19, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Robert

    I can see so much hatred with the comments above.......Like mexicans complaint or not allow other americans to come when they killed their own there.
    Some people like "Chris" and "Harry reid" needs anger management sessions. They cannot even use their own identity....cowards.

    May 19, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Horace

    If Michelle Obama were being entirely truthful, she might have said, "[w]ell we have to work on that. We have to fix that, but the President and the congressional majorities will continue to spread happy talk about that, but they very much want to steer well clear of that hot button issue at least until we get past November."

    May 19, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. big belly Mike

    Awwww, poor little thing! Now lets go find the girls mom and send her back to where she came from! Has Arnold would say, "Hasta la Vista baby!" It's a good thing the little girl ratted out her mom! It's a good thing that somebody (Arizona) has a back bone to stand up and take action against illegal immigration! Unlike Obama who's too scared and too liberal to take any action! Maybe he'll just do what he does w/ any other issue....blame Bush and the Republicans! I hope all of you liberals out there will realize one day how bad our immigration and deficits are! These are the issues sissy Obama should be passionate about! Instead he's shoving health care and banking overhaul down our throats and he's putting immigration and our debt on the back burner! Go Arizona! Keep fighting! (Even though all the critics from the lazy liberal Obama administration hasn't even read the 10 page bill!!!)

    May 19, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. Stacie

    Oh Matt, EVERYONE has now seen Pres. Obama's birth certificate. I'm not sure what else Hawaii can do to prove to you that indeed Barack Obama was born in Hawaii – to be very clear, Hawaii IS part of the United States.

    May 19, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Buffalo Bill

    The "misdirected expression of frustration" is how el Presidente Obama got 2012 it will be a well organized "directed expression of frustration" which will return he & the "sleeveless" one, back to Chicago!

    May 19, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Phil in KC

    I can't believe those of you who advocated telling that little girl that her mother is a criminal and will be deported. Whether that's the case or not, to do so in that manner, in that venue, is too cold-hearted. That's why Mrs. Obama gave the answer she did. She didn't want to say that her mother is a criminal, but couldn't say that her mother was welcome to stay. So she waffled for the sake of that child.
    And this issue is not as simple as take them down to the border and throw them back over the fence. How naive.

    May 19, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Anti-birther

    Birthers are morons. There. I said it. SOMEBODY had to!

    The President has "papers," you idiots. Maybe you should finish high school so you can get your graduation "papers," too.

    May 19, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Average American

    That's one brave little girl, and now one very nervous mother.

    May 19, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Dingaling

    Is this person like a 2nd grader or something?!?!?!?!

    She will have the nutjobs in this country forming a mob outside her home with torches and pitchforks for ratting out her mother!

    May 19, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Minnesotan

    A lot of people on here state that this was a set-up. If this was a set up don't you think the little girl's question would have said something else other than "Obama is going to take away her mommy and anyone else without papers"? I mean seriously people, how did this help out Obama at all!!??!!

    May 19, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. joseph divito

    we should keep illegal immigrants and their children, regardless of where they are born, out of our country.

    May 19, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. none

    I agree, this sounds fishy, like a liberal set up.

    May 19, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. Turnabout is Fair Play

    laura May 19th, 2010 4:08 pm ET

    Are you kidding me? This was a definate set up. Lets play to the liberals and bring a small child into the immigration mix. Why can't people understand they are ILLEGAL!!!! Does anyone know what this means? It means they are breaking the law. The dumbo and dumboette set up this little child. Shame on them.

    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.

    May 19, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. Ace Frehley

    Poor Laura, with your emotive diatribe and your lack of facts. Its almost like watching FOX News. Let me see.....stay at home mom with a high-school education, no skills, no future, and angry at everyone for your own underperformance. How typical.

    May 19, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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