Tags: US | US | Mexico | First | Ladies | Immigration

Child Tells First Lady Her Mother Lacks 'Papers'

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 09:31 PM


First lady Michelle Obama faced a tough, personal immigration question from a Maryland second-grader Wednesday when she visited an elementary school with her Mexican counterpart, Margarita Zavala.

The girl told Obama that her mother said President Barack Obama was "taking everybody away that doesn't have papers."

Mrs. Obama responded: "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."

The girl then said, "But my mom doesn't have papers."

"Well," Mrs. Obama said, "we have to work on that. We have to fix that. And everybody's got to work together in Congress to make sure that that happens."

New Hampshire Estates Elementary School principal Jane Litchko wouldn't identify the student but said a parent signed a release allowing the child to participate and be filmed. Litchko said the school doesn't inquire about the immigration status of families.

"We serve every child who comes through the door," Litchko said. "We don't ask that kind of question. If they want to share with us, fine. If they don't, we don't ask."

Litchko said roughly 65 percent of her students speak a language other than English, and she employs seven English teachers to help them get up to speed.

The school recently won the Agriculture Department's Healthier US School Challenge Silver Award, which rewards schools that promote nutrition and physical activity.

The first ladies' school visit came shortly after the Obamas welcomed Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife to the White House, where immigration also was a hot topic.

Obama condemned Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration and called again for the nation to overhaul immigration. Calderon called Arizona's new law discriminatory and warned that Mexico would reject any effort to "criminalize migration."

Mrs. Obama is leading a public awareness campaign against childhood obesity and has said she wants to help solve the problem in a generation so that babies born today will come of age at a healthy weight.

The first ladies ran, jumped, skipped and even played with a parachute in a physical education class. They also sat down with students in a free lunch program and passed bowls of broccoli around the cafeteria tables.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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