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. Dano

    To all the hateful posters here I say all you heartless bastards should be deported to the country your ancesters came from UNLESS you can prove they came here legally. I'm not sure how anyone could be considered coming here legally when the original owners of the land didn't invite you over.

    May 19, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Ben

    I really wonder... Who pays more in taxes, illegal immigrants or members of the Tea Party?

    I have no idea the answer, but I do wonder. I can't imagine *every* immigrant has a job where they're paid in cash. Somehow they get fake SS IDs, go get jobs, have taxes taken out, etc. I just don't see the IRS writing them all a big check at the end of the year.

    On the other hand, the average tea party person doesn't look like someone who pays a whole lot of taxes to me. Maybe their kids should be kicked out of school.

    Just saying.

    And this little girl... I sure hope my taxes are going to paying for her education. Irregardless of her parents, this little girl will grow up to have an education, a job, be a productive member of society and contribute to the system.

    May 19, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. betterdays

    For those spouting off about how Anglos have no right to be here in the first place: In the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries, the Native Americans fought back against the threat of being completely overrun.

    Using your logic, I guess that makes it ok for us to fight back now.

    To those who say my "descendents" didn't have a right to be here, lo so many years ago: I have no descendents. (Those would be poeple who come AFTER me.) You must mean "ancestors." Read a book or something.

    Finally, my ancestors came from Hungary a little over 100 years ago and adhered to the immigration laws that were in effect at the time.

    May 19, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Shari from Madison WI

    I know there is a legal way of getting in. I just am tired of the hatred being spread here. Yes, we need reform, but as others have said here, would any of the ones who want all illegals deported be willing to do the jobs they do. I also wonder about what age group are the ones who did come here legally? thanks

    May 19, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. Bud Eagle

    What if the Native Americans had asked the Pilgrims and others after them for their papers? They should have!

    May 19, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. gt

    send her and her illegal mother back to where thye came from.... ugh .. there illegal...what is wrong with you people...

    May 19, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. jm for sc

    Amazing how ignorant people really are. Regardless of how the racist part of America desire to paint President Obama as an outsider, he was born in America. Most of all, even if his mother went in labor in a another country and his mother was an American, he still would be consider an American as well.

    One thing he is for sure, and that is, The President of the United States.

    Michelle has nothing to do with the president's policies and who ever told that litlle girl to ask her those questions should know that.

    May 19, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. yg

    I have yet to see the self rightous redeemed! The whites took the land from the Indians and now call those without documents illegal...the irony!

    May 19, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "There's sufficient proof the indians weren't native either."

    There's also sufficient proof that they were here in not only before we were, but also that nobody was here when they arrived.

    May 19, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Dave

    It is funny that the President of Mexico criticizes Arizona (which is enforcing a federal law that is actually much more lenient than immigration law in his own country). Talk about hypocrisy!

    May 19, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. EqualPolitics4Everyone

    This was clearly planned by the liberal party.

    Liberals, I don't understand you. Wake Up. Those Americans who live in the suburbs need to go to areas with illegal immigrants and spend a week there before you just blurt out and say they should just be given papers to stay here. Don't just rely on the media to tell you what to feel.

    May 19, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. Vinny O

    How many times do we have to hear that illegal aliens are getting a free education? Of course they pay taxes. It has been documented time and time again that they pay income, property, sales, and social security taxes. And because they are illegal, they are unable to to collect any benefits. So it could be argued that they are paying for us, rather than the other way around.

    May 19, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. MOM in the South

    I sure hope the Administration didn't instantaneously whisk that poor child's mom out of the country just because she innocently 'spilled the beans." Obviously, she's worried sick about it and wants some reassurance that she's safe here WITH her mother and other family members.
    Mrs. Obama, like a typical politician, just talked in circles, not answering her question at all. Where was her heart – and her protective "Mother instincts?" She flunked that test!

    May 19, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Jeremy

    Hmm, I was expecting to see a story about Sarah Palin asking Michelle something.

    Too easy?

    May 19, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Wisconsinite

    I'd rather let the illegals stay and kick out all of the hate-filled, Rabid Righties! Illegals probably work harder too!

    May 19, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. doug

    Misdirected is my President Obama, he got that right.

    May 19, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. Hulio

    The Republicans don’t want reform. They are afraid that the immigrants will work hard and succeed and as they are mostly catholic they fear that they will become the minority. Already there are no Protestants on the Supreme Court bench and fewer in congress. The old British ways are going thank God. We will be Americans no matter where we come from VIVA America

    May 19, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  18. Patty

    For all of you who think that amnesty for illegals is the answer, I have a question for you.

    What do you think would happen to you if you were illegally living in many countries, including Mexico, and you were caught .... you would be punished harshly ..... certainlynot given rights just about equal to legal citizens.

    Our government – covering many years and presidencies – has failed to enforce immigration laws and now many politicians just want to use this hot button subject to improve their chances for re-election. Shame on them .... shame of non-politicians who turn a blind eye to the fact that living here illegally is a criminal act ..... having a seven-year old kid trying to speak for a parent regarding illegal immigration status just reveals what the kid is being taught at home .... THAT THE PARENTS THINK THEY HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS TO STAY rather than facing the truth of their actions.

    May 19, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. aaron

    Open borders for all. There are no natives, europeans immigrated here, native americans immigrated here. There are only people, separate from place and nationality... and lets all religious and non wish only good things for all people regardless of origin.

    May 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Doug

    Kick them out, they migrated illegally – period. The days of unlimited immigration to the country ended as we don't have free land to give away anymore. So you either enforce the law, or you remove the law. Removing all immigration laws would end this country as we would be flooded with immigrants and our system would collapse – that is not in question. So you MUST enforce the law. You come here illegally and get caught here, we take enough money from you for a one way trip home, and a fine, then send you packing – period. Next time migrate legally. No sympathy here as you are breaking the law.

    May 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. Chris

    Maybe we should remove federal taxes and just increase sales taxes. Then no matter what, illegals or legals pay taxes.

    May 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Vinny O

    I'm tired of hearing that these people get a free education at the expense of tax payers. They ARE taxpayers. They pay income, property, Social Security, and sales taxes. And because they can't collect social security, unemployment, and other benefits, it could be argued that they are paying for US rather than the other way around.

    May 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Rush Limbaugh

    Spill baby Spill......This talk about immigration is just to divert you from the damage done by our large corporations that are making money hand-over-fist at your expense. Keep it up, righties...we might make a point one of these days!!!!! Now, where's my drugs?

    May 19, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. GI Joe

    People, stop living in the past as most of you on this blogging are. Stop and take a look at the current situation US is in. Our country is in debt. BIG time.... We cant afford anymore hand outs to anybody. I don’t care what race u are. All you people claiming your intellectual, well, you have no common sense that is for sure. Civilization and Empires have fallen in the past because too many educated derelicts where to smart to change. If we don’t tighten up our ship we will sink and it want matter what race or political party you hold self evident too. NOW WILL IT. WAKE UP!!!

    May 19, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. stacie

    Yes, patty, we should all strive to be like Mexico or China or Russia, right? Is that what you want?

    May 19, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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