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. Ace Frehley

    Dear Pistol,

    I would take an illegal over you any least they can spell in their first language.

    May 19, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Eric

    The kid said her mom didn't have any papers?

    What a coincidence! Neither does our (p)resident!

    No wonder he's so against the Arizona law.

    May 19, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Captain Awesome

    Why do I get the feeling this was a staged photo-op?

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

    Yes, the illegal immigrants are draining this country. Look at our economy from slavery, Great Depression, recessions, China owning us, corporate, wall street and government corruption. Yes, it the illegals faults – The White Illegals!!!!

    May 19, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. harry reid

    The coment below only proves that you are of limited intelligence. But you already knew that, didn't you?

    "Turnabout is Fair Play May 19th, 2010 4:21 pm ET

    he should have asked to see SENATOR McCain's papers, atleast PRESIDENT Obama was born on U.S. soil, not on a floating piece of metal with water under far away from American soil. I don't care if being born on a U.S. ship constitutes being born in America, Obama's more American-born than McCain in my book."

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Bgall

    You people make me sick. Honestly, it truly makes me sad that our wonderful country, land of opportunity, home of compassion for those oppressed, has turned into a clearing house for uneducated, jingoistic morons. Evolve o' you of compromised intellect!

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. stacia

    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

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. harold

    It is amazing every person in this country illegally came in while Obama is President and it is all his fault. In only his one year in office the Federal Government stopped enforcing the law. Until he was elected no one got in the country and the Federal Government enforced immigration laws. A lot of smart folks we have in this country!

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Riley

    Illegals must go HOME. That's all there is to it.

    It's not a republican or democratic issue...IT"S THE LAW!

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Doug

    Very well said, Mae.

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Enough is enough alright!

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

    *sighs* Let me see if I got this right -
    This little girl is a second grader in public schools. We'll assume for the sake of arguement that at least *she* is an American citizen.

    Her mother is not, however. She is here illegally. That means, among other things, that she doesn't pay taxes. It also means that her child is attending a school that is already strained financially & is being made worse by the fact that Mom is not contributing to the budget.

    hmmm... where does she live again?

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for immigration reform. I'm also someone who, if I get caught breaking the law, will be punished for my crime. Why is her mother, or any of the people who are here illegally allowed to be given all the privileges that this country has to offer without any of the responsibilities or penalties!

    And, for the record, I don't give a flying pickle what your ethnic background is or what country you come from. If you are here illegally and you are benefitting from taxpayer dollars without putting anything into the pot, then you are a blight on my country and an insult to every single naturalized citizen who worked so hard to share in the joys and sorrows of this nation!

    Driver's licenses? College tuitions? Are you kidding me with this? Where does it stop? Where did it start?!? Why *doesn't* it stop!?!

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. RH

    DEPORT illegal aliens. There is no humanitarian issue here. There are avenues for the consideration of humanitarian concerns in current immigration law.
    If you crossed the US border without explicit permission from the federal government, you have committed a CRIME against US law and should be held accountable for your actions. That is all.

    May 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. Where Your Papers Too

    White folks never got papers when it was just Indians here. In fact, Mexicans were here b4 white folks too. Blacks were forced over here. Indians, Mexicans and Blacks should be asking White folks for their papers.

    May 19, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. NC res

    why is it that my mom, asian, married to a military retiree, who pays ALOT of money to make sure her green card is up to date, disabled...and cant get any type of benefits for being disabled??
    AND it was WAY cheaper for her to get the green card then to get a citizenship??
    but yet illegals can get more support and benefits?? i have absolutely NO NO NO NO sympathy!!

    May 19, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Don

    Little girl I'm sorry but if your mommy has no papers. Get out! Now. I fought for this country but not to suppost thousands of illegals and their rug rats.

    May 19, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. redneckbluedog

    Well this liberal thinks that little girl's momma needs to go back to her home country. This liberal think's that little girl's momma is in this country illegally, costing legal taxpayers a small fortune. Furthermore, this liberal thinks anyone who is in this country illegally needs to get out, now. They brought this on themselves. They are bad citizens (they are criminals by definition). They steal, kill people by driving drunk, assault their own as well as legal citizens, and generally pay no state or federal taxes, yet expect to be treated as those who do. Little girl, tell your illegal momma she is not welcome in this country and to go home and take her fellow countrypeople with her.

    May 19, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Bob in MD

    Some people will always return to the race card. Don't they understand this issue is not about race? It's about coming here ILLEGALLY and breaking the law. They are criminals. Nothing wrong with legal immigrants that respect our laws and contribute to society.

    May 19, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Liberal4Obama

    This is just sad, the little girl clearly wants to help her mom and in doing so just outed her in the worst way, this madness have to be resolved it's so inhuman. This is America we can and should do better for all people who want to come to this country and achieve the American dream.

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. cjr

    it is time – all those of hispanic desent must register to vote and vote out all republicans – we need to clean this mess up – we cannot and will not separate children from their parents – The people of AZ have shown an ugly side of this country.

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Annie

    In every country in the world, the child has the same citizenship of their parents, until they are of legal age.

    The same should be true, here in America.

    We put ourselves into this situation, and its time to change the law,
    if you are under of legal age, your citizenship is that of the responsible adult / parent – guardian.

    That way, there is no question. And, it makes it easier to manage.

    Every border state in the United States faces these questions.
    As a nation we need to support small communities and states who
    are the first line of defense on keeping Americas borders safe.

    Change the Law. Make the child's citizenship the same as the parent.

    Why should every

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    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.

    LAURA, you need to be quiet. You see, most of us Whites are not native to this country. We, our parents, migrated from Europe and other countries. When our grand parents and great grand parents got here they took the land from the Indians and even promised them a buch of things and never delivered. When we arrived here there were the Indians and the blacks were forced to come here and sold as slaves so they are not responsible either for being forcably transplanted. If we keep up pushing this immagration stuff, white people will end up being the ones that have to produce papers because we are not native to this country. What we did was to steal it.

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  22. Ace Frehley

    Hello my name is "harry reid" and I am a tool.
    I am a desperate little troll, using the only weapons the right has...

    "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!

    Derision, name calling, and arrogance. I guess that is the" party of values" that lost in the last election and the bleating frustration that comes with losing.

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. We are a nation of laws

    We are a nation of laws – and of fairness. That is why the 30 million illegals in this country cannot just stay here. And the daily flow of illegals into this country cannot continue. For this, I support the AZ law. When Obama and the Dems fail to act, states must protect themselves. As for the 30 million illegals – mostly from latin america countries, it is simply not fair that they can illegally enter this country and stay when so many more immigrants enter the legal way - look at the thousands if Indian IT workers that come over on H1B VISA's They play by the rules - work hard – OAY TAXES – and if luck they can get a green card after 7-10 years. why let illegal Mexicans just cross the border and stay – paying nothing/

    Obama is afraid to lead on this one - He will not dissurb his Latino base – and that dereliction of duty by Obama causes stats like AZ to take matters into their own hands.

    It is time for our governent to legislate If they do not like the illegals or the law, it is time to change it - and to deal with the 30 million illegals and the total lack of security along our southern border

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. Jim

    Set up..pure set up

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. Matt

    So, about the illegally, not paying any taxes, and can't have a legit job because she's illegal. Yet, I bet she still is probably collecting Obama's healthcare, unemployment, mortgage bailout, etc. And is for sure using our tax dollars to (illegally) educate her daughter.

    Really? There are people that are ok with that? Or are the only people that are ok with that the ones that get out of paying taxes anyway, so leave it to us middle and upper class to pay for all this...

    I'm taking a trip to Arizona.

    May 19, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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