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. Howard

    I hate to say it, but we should find out where her mother lives and escort her out of the country for violating US law. Why are we being so sympathetic to people who break the law? It makes no sense to me. I for one am glad Arizona is taking a stand. Who is next Florida, Texas, the rest of the US.

    May 19, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Ron

    Are you kidding me? They should have asked that little girl what her address was and start the deportation proceedings IMMEDIATELY!! What is frustrating is the total disregard for U.S. laws including our messiah (aka Barack Hussein Obama). Why would we expect the people to respect the law when our own administration doesn't? Before you start screaming "see!! Republicans hate immigrants" let's be clear: It is not "Republicans" but rather "U.S. citizens dislike ILLEGAL immigrants!!". I support LEGAL immigrants and glad to help them but those who do not care about U.S. laws should LEAVE whether voluntarily or involuntarily!!

    May 19, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Rocco

    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 – we won't stop the illegal aliens from taking the rest of their family back with is the choice of the illegal aliens that breaks up families. ILLEGALS=CRIMINALS, it's pretty simple. No sympathy here. I don't care how long they've been living here – they knew they were breaking the law the entire time. If they want a "path to citizenship", it starts by going back to where they came from and getting at the end of the line like all other people that are trying to do it the legal way.

    May 19, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. Lawless

    Shame to the president of Mexico who encourages Mexican to invade Arizona! Shame to the President of USA who does not read 4 pages Arizona law!

    May 19, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. MikeH

    Wow, what a collection of bigoted ignorant folks posting here, also bitter closet-alcoholics (big bellied mike?) and looney-toons (matt) posting their hate. I didn't realize so many right-wing wackadoodles hated Michelle Obama and were hiding in the shadows ready to post their poison.

    May 19, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Terri

    Lord, that girl's mother must be waiting for INS to knock on her door.

    May 19, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Shari from Madison WI

    I agree with Mae, especially about all the hate expressed here. Does anyone who feels the girl and her mother should be deported understand how much more difficult it is to come into this country legally than when our parent's and grandparent's did? The paper work alone is daunting.

    Hatred and judgemenatlism doesn't solve anything, it just makes it worse.

    May 19, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. legal in the US

    If anyone wants to come to the US, there is a LEGAL way to do it. Myself and lots of other naturalized US Citizens worked VERY hard to become legal. We studied English, passed TOEFL, we busted our butts of working 2-3 jobs while getting a college education, we worked hard, studied hard, PAID taxes, paid all kinds of legal fees and are now adding knowledge and skills to the US economy. We got to the American dream through our sweat, tears and blood.

    And these folks just want to jump the border, get pregnant, pop out the kids, NOT learn English and voila, here are the papers?

    There are lots of programs that allow legal change of status. I personally know plenty of people who have done that. It is not easy, but it is achievable.

    May 19, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. notfooledbydistractions

    Dan May 19th, 2010 4:28 pm ET

    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.


    So Dan, if you unfortunately lose your job, will you be willing to pick lettuce for $4.50 and hour? Or become a roofer for $5.00 an hour?

    Just wondering how far your testosterone carries you.

    May 19, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. JeffO you know what illegal means?

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Ethan

    "Second grader grills Michelle Obama" = WORST HEADLINE *EVER*

    Gotta be kidding me.

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Ace Frehley


    Dear birther conspiracy theorist who is desperate and reaching. Perhaps you are unable to determine fact from fantasy. Perhaps legal documents are actually legal documents, and you, good sir, are the one that is falsifying evidence.
    But you are too cowardly to admit to that, eh?

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. neonmadman

    Good thing it didn't happen in Arizona. Mom would be in Tijuana by now. Maybe when they get deported they can go live with Rush Limbaugh wherever it is he was suppost to go. Surely you will need some domestics to fill your prescriptions and do your gardening right Rush. You are still going right Rush? Rush..... Rush.....

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Umbrellaman

    To Bill...And the others who wrote on this board criticizing our nation’s poor immigration policy. Do you have your papers? Learn how to write English before you criticize others who are trying to do well for their families. In addition, why do you people always talk about the Mexicans, have you not had take-out Chinese food lately? Moreover, what would you do if you had no food or money for your family right here in America, wouldn’t you find a way to provide for them? If not, then you are just a fool.

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Amigo

    All you guys don't understand the idea. We need to create a new majority in this country. The old majority is history !!!

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. Skout

    So she just moved on? Wow.

    I understand these people want and need a better life, but there has to be a better way than simply having our political leaders turning their heads on illegal activity on a public forum! Come on!

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. Dave

    Hey Michael, I'll raise my taxes to support them, if you subsidize all the cheap labor I used to have from all the undocumented farmhands, construction workers, and if you'll come cut my lawn for 25 bucks a week. The whole lawn, plus all the planting and pruning. Since I'm already supporting you, it shouldn't be a big deal!

    May 19, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Arizonan

    What exactly is this "immigration reform" these liberals keep talking about? I think it's pretty clear that we have the laws on the books already – if you break them, you are an illegal alien. We don't need new laws, we just need them enforced. No more sanctuary cities, no more sanctuary policies, no more amnesty. Whatever happened to the rule of law? Instead, the liberals want to paint the problem as if the laws need to be, the enforcement needs to be reformed and the problem of illegal immigration will be solved.

    May 19, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Mike T

    I agree with Nanda, the love that we as a "christian" nation have is just overwhelming. For those who say just deport them, ok, next time I drive by Denny's I better see you or your kids filling out a dishwashing application, or one to pick blueberries, or cabbage. I better see you standing around waiting to dry off our "rich" american cars as it comes out of the car wash. I guess there is no date on when illegal is illegal, so I am sure I can sense a new paper right now being drawn up by Native Americans. I guess the Mexicans should learn from us Whites, if you want land...JUST TAKE IT. What if they did just that? What basis of history do we have to stand on to oppose that? I bet the sentiment would change once fruit and veggies go through the roof. If you think they are stealing our jobs, you sure have low expectations of your and your childs career.

    May 19, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Erica

    While I believe in obeying the laws of the land, I believe people-who have the privilege to have been born in America and have the luxuries that come with living here-are being awfully hard on those who are struggling to get to/be here in America and have all the opportunities that comes with it that are not readily available in their home country. I say ship some of you to a country with less opportunities for about a year and let you find your own way back to America (without family or any other type of influence) and maybe you will be a bit more sympathetic to people who are just trying to have a better life.

    May 19, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. SeeYa

    No Papers? Go back where you came from. I wish every state would instigate the same laws and AZ. Good for them. The quicker we get illegal’s out of our country the better off we'll be. If they want to come back the right way then more power to them. I am sick and tired of paying for their welfare, healthcare, and education for their children.

    May 19, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. stacie

    SMA: "But our citizenship is in heaven."

    May 19, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Dar

    Ouch tough question to answer to a small girl worried that her mom may be gone the next day, I feel bad for her, no child should ever have to worry for any reason.

    But what I do see here is a child of an illegal going to school in our country that we fund and she's sitting next to the first lady????????
    What security failed to check these childrens parents out before even letting them close to her.

    May 19, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    @ Turnabout is Fair Play

    Thank you for that comment that you threw back at Laura. You took the thought right out of my head. And these are the same idiots who are screaming "we want our country back." It's not your country to begin with idiots. If they want to be technical about it, they can take their butts back to the caucus mountains.

    May 19, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. Tam

    When all the illegals are kicked out, what are you willing to pay for your tomatoes and lettuce? How many with papers will work in the fields? For what wage? Good luck!

    May 19, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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