First lady's questioner wants White House visit

Published May 21, 2010

SILVER SPRING, Md. – A second-grader who sprung a question on first lady Michelle Obama about immigration said Thursday she'd like to visit the White House.

The 7-year-old put a human face on the issue Wednesday when she told the first lady during an elementary school visit that her mother had said President Barack Obama was "taking everybody away that doesn't have papers." Then she said her mother "doesn't have papers."

Mrs. Obama tried to reassure her that the president was working to solve the immigration problem and "everybody's got to work together in Congress to make sure that that happens."

A day later, the girl's mother declined to talk but permitted a brief interview with the girl on the condition that their names not be used because she is concerned about her immigration status.

The girl said she was happy to meet Mrs. Obama and Mexico first lady Margarita Zavala at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School and hoped to return the visit.

"I hope I get to go to the White House," she said.

Asked if she was worried about her mother's situation, the girl smiled and shook her head.

A Department of Homeland Security official said federal immigration authorities are not pursuing the family.

DHS spokesman Matt Chandler said in an e-mailed statement Thursday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations "are based on solid law enforcement work and not classroom Q-and-As."

Chandler added the agency "prioritizes criminal aliens who pose a threat to our communities."

Brian Edwards, chief of staff for the Montgomery County public school system, said the system is protecting the child.

"The girl is in school and we're doing everything we can to keep her safe," Edwards said.

Written by KATHLEEN MILLER, Associated Press Writer

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