Second-Grader Asks First Lady About Immigration and Her Undocumented Mother

By Kathleen Miller | May 19, 2010 | 6:12 PM EDT

First lady Michelle Obama, left, and Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala, right, visit New Hampshire Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., Wednesday, May 19, 2010. The school, which was awarded the USDA's Healthier US School Challenge Silver Award in 2009, serves more than 400 Pre-K, Head Start, first and second grade students, many who come from Central America, South America, and other countries. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Silver Spring, Md. (AP) - 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."
Michelle 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" as Obama said, "well, 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."
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.
President 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 Mexico would reject any effort to "criminalize migration."
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 who enroll at the school speak a language other than English, and she employs seven English teachers to help them get up to speed.
The school recently won the Department of Agriculture's Healthier US School Challenge Silver Award, which rewards schools that promote nutrition and physical activity.
Michelle Obama is leading a public awareness campaign against childhood obesity and has said she wants to help solve the problem in a generation so 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 passed bowls of broccoli around the cafeteria tables.
First Lady Michelle Obama took an unexpected question about illegal immigration from a Maryland second-grader Wednesday when she visited an elementary school with her Mexican counterpart Margarita Zavala.