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. Boo Hoo

    Oh what a shame! And we suckers are educating their multitudes of kids.

    May 19, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. isaiah's grandma

    here in california, where tax dollars are getting scarce...some people think primarily because too many illegal immigrants send their money home, and are not paying taxes.
    not only not paying taxes, but are taxing our healthcare system, which puts more burden on those of us who are citizens; as well as the
    general welfare system.
    taxing our board of elections, who print everything in so many languages – they need to learn english to participate! isn't that our
    main language? think of the savings!
    so, while I understand the motivation for coming to america...THEY need to understand that there is no free lunch.
    again, participate like all the rest of us, or go home.

    May 19, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. JLH

    Deport this kid and her mom ASAP.

    May 19, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. BJ

    Time to toss mommy back whence she came...

    May 19, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Wanda

    My thoughts are, if you're not in the country legally then you should be deported back to where you belong. We have no way of tracking you, if you committ a crime you can hop on the first thing out of here and off your gone. Immigration Reform needs to take place NOW.

    May 19, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Average American

    First, finally secure our boarders. Second, allow people who have been living here, and working here, secure a path to citizenship. They will need to work for it, but if we have allowed them to live here this long (long enough to have a second grade daughter who is here legally and speaks wonderful English by the way), then she must have been working FOR Americans who have paid her under the table with a wink and a nod. Both parties are to blame for the situation we find ourselves in, and I hope and pray were aren't as cruel as some of you are sounding in your posts. To rip apart a family. Seriously? Have you no soul!

    May 19, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. Rob

    No papers? Then go home! Sorry little girl. BTW, I am a liberal so I don't see this as a liberal or conservative issue. It's about not breaking the law!

    May 19, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. Mae

    The sad thing about this debate is that we continue to line up at the extremes. I am peeved with President Obama about some of the things he has done just like everyone else, but one thing he consistently does well is call on adults to behave like adults. It's possible to debate an issue without dehumanizing it. The hatred on these boards always suprises me ... how do you stand to walk around feeling like this? Don't you see that hating makes you more miserable? Why is it so hard to realize that a toxic reaction to a bad situation just makes it worse, just makes you more unhappy and bitter and frustrated, and that you cannot "win" this way? Do you really think that there will be more for you if we send all the illegals home? THEY ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. The top 1% in this country have more wealth than the ENTIRE BOTTOM 99%. THAT is why you are all so angry and frustrated that you don't have enough. You're targeting the wrong system!

    May 19, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Bill Evans

    Let's face it. There would be no illegal immigrants if businesses would not also break the law by hiring them. I can understand somebody wanting to provide for their family. What I can't accept is greedy employers who will exploit needy people, knowingly break the law, and hurt America too!

    May 19, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Ace Frehley


    That sounds like an immigrants name. Prove you are here legally, show us your papers.

    May 19, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Camacho

    It's sad that some people on this blog don't have any empathy for immigrants, given that we are all immigrants in this country. Whe they first arrived here and kill all the indians, they forget they were immigrants too. For all these RED Necks, I say, the demograpgics of this country has shifted beneath your feet, and you don't seem to understand it. If you don't change, change will be forced on you wether you want it or not. It's just a matter of time AMIGO !!!

    May 19, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. David

    "I think that she says that, Barack Obama is going to take away everybody that doesn't have papers"

    If only Obama had that kind of courage.

    May 19, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. SMA

    Stacie: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

    May 19, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. yg

    so sad to hear what some people really feel, and how self centered they are and what a lack of compassion...I do recall we are all here illegally as we took this land from the Native Americans and then other parts from the Mexicans, but now we want them out even if it means tearing families apart. It's comical how some believe we won this land fair and square, no smart person believes this! You will one day have to answer to the all mighty one and what you do onto others will be done onto you! If you are one of those in here commenting negatively about undocumented persons whom you instead wish to call illegal Karma is your worst enemy buddy boy and it will hit you over the head one day like a ton of bricks...just sit back..your day will come.

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. sonny chapman

    If anyone making cruel comments considers themselves a follower of Jesus Christ, what Four Gospels have you learned such love ?

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. harry reid

    There is a very brave man in here named "Robert" LOL Wow I wish I could be so brave. Moron. Remember to vote for me, Robert, if you live in my state. I need all the help from idiots I can get!

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. pel'e

    Mrs.Worf should have told her if mommy and daddy are here legally she has nothing to worry about.But if they are here illegally they are out of here along with you.

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Anni

    I remember a few years back when a people thought that we should take the Civil Rights Act off the books becuase, in their belief, racism was eradicated. Reading the responses to this article proves that racism is alive and prospering in America.

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. beth

    please...the parents may be here without papers....but calling them heartless. so, i guess that the people in suvs (with their McCain Palin stickers still on them) that speed through our quiet residential neighborhood, tossing cigarette butts and not coming to complete stops at stop signs then are CRIMINALS as well. hey of the two, i'd rather have the illegals, who are most likely more respectful people, move to town.

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Felicia

    The law is the law. if you came here knowing you broke the law to get here that's just telling me you shouldn't be here in the first place. The last thing America needs is more crooks, thieves and liars. Go through the necessary process and legally gain citizenship. I do not feel sorry for anyone who comes here, has children and makes a home knowing they lied to do it. How do you have a leg to stand on using your children who you bore here illegally to stay here? Everyone wants a better life for themselves and their families. We all have to obey the rules and regulations whether we like it or not. If you are illegally in the United States of America, regardless of what you do and how long you've been here you need to be deported and go through the legal process to attain U.S. citizenship.

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Dave

    I love these "liberal set up" comments. Kinda reminds me of when I was a cop and everyone said the police framed them. Yep, the police sat around all day thinking how to frame the average citizen because they had nothing else to do.

    Do the people who post this "liberal set up" nonsense realize just how stupid they sound? Do you think the First Ladies of Mexico and United States have nothing better to do than plant a little girl in the class they were attending? Get real here. There are conspiracy theories and then there is just plain silliness. This is the latter.

    If this little girl's mother is illegal she should be sent back to the country she came from along with the little girl. That is the law. But I would be willing to bet that this little girl didn't even realize what type of papers anyone was talking about. Everyone needs to quit getting all frothy about the mouth about this meaningless event.

    May 19, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. Michael

    Well for those who are for all the illegals staying in the country, you have to first agree to raise your own taxes to support them. (NOT MINE) Then you can pay for their schooling, medical needs, etc. The deal should be as long as you and your bleeding heart can support them they stay but when you have to file for bankrupcy like the country will be doing soon, then they have to go back. Fair? You make the call. I am sure you won't agree because you want to make the decision for me based on your bleeding heart but you want my wallet opened to pay for them. We are getting tired of paying for everyone. I am here to support myself and my family not those who chose to come here illegally. You can do that!

    May 19, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. Dan

    If you are in the US illegally, GO HOME and get in line like the others.

    Shame on those who think it's fair for illegals to be able to stay here and NOT pay taxes and take away our jobs. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.

    May 19, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. 'Bama Grandma

    To all you conservatives who seem to have forgotten, it was Reagan who threw down the welcome mat when he granted amnesty to 4 million illegals back in 1986. Cheap, undocumented labor for his neocon business buddies morphed into the 20 million illegals we have today. Those who are throwing tantrums and playing the blame game need only to look at deregulation and amnesty, courtesy of St. Ronnie, for the multitude of problems our nation faces today.

    May 19, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Shaun

    To all of my conservative friends: Republican President Ronald Reagan was the last president who signed the amnesty bill for illegal immigrant. Don't blame the liberal only.

    May 19, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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