Sometimes kids say the darndest things and ask the darnedest questions. First Lady Michelle Obama knows this first hand. She was on a routine school visit when an unexpected question from a second grade girl stopped everyone in their tracks and pushed the immigration debate in this country into overdrive.
Mrs. Obama and Mexico's First lady, Margarita Zavala were visiting an elementary school in Silver Spring, Md., when the little girl raised her hand.
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She told Mrs. Obama her mom "says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers."
Mrs. Obama replied: "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 was politely persistent, "but my mom doesn't have any ..."
Mrs. Obama replied: "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 happens. That's right."
In an instant, this brave little girl was able to do what countless protests, 24 hour cable networks, and camera-hungry pundits have not even come close to accomplishing. She brought home the immigration debate as one that affects people's lives in a personal way. At the heart of this matter are mothers, fathers, daughters and sons whose lives will be changed by the course this country decides to take regarding this issue. Congress has stalled on coming up with any real immigration reform solutions but perhaps the girl's question will trigger some action.
While, immigration reform was a campaign issue for President Obama, the ongoing wars, a faltering economy and health care reform have stolen the spotlight as of late. But a rising tide of immigration concerns seem to be reaching the tipping point. The controversy over a proposal in Arizona giving law enforcement the right to detain and question anyone they "believe" to be in the U.S. illegally has been building by the day. Even Mexico's President, addressed the matter before a joint session of Congress, saying it “introduces a terrible idea: using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.” President Obama, called the law “misdirected.” The immigration debate appears to be escalating and before long the American people will demand less talk and more action.
But as our nation's leaders carry on each day, they must never forget that policies are really about people. And at the end of the day, what they decide filters down to that little girl who dared to ask the dardest of questions.