Admission by worried little girl may boost immigration reform
The admission by a worried little girl to first lady Michelle Obama humanized and provided a need lift to stalled efforts to fix the United States’ “broken immigration system.”
At least that’s the way one key U.S. lawmaker sees it.
“She synthesized for all of us what the call for reform is all about,” said Representative Luis Gutierrez, chairman of the immigration task force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
“It’s about family. It’s about a child. It’s about the love of that child for her mother and the fear of that child that she may lose her mother,” Gutierrez told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
Michelle Obama during a visit to a school on Wednesday addressed immigration issues after a little girl told her: “My mom said … that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.” When Mrs. Obama said there was a need to make sure people have the right papers, the girl blurted out, “But my mom doesn’t have papers.”
That means the little girl’s mom could be deported — just like those of countless other children, including about 4 million youngsters who are U.S. citizens, Gutierrez said. Children born in the United States are citizens even if their parents are illegal immigrants.
Gutierrez, who has long sought reform — addressing rallies, making the case for it in Congress, getting arrested with other demonstrators outside the White House — said the little girl got across the message better than he ever has.
“This will help us,” said Gutierrez, who appeared on two nationally broadcast TV talk shows in 24 hours to discuss the little girl. “It’s already helping us.”
Gutierrez has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, for failing to keep a 2008 campaign promise to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.
But Gutierrez said he remains hopeful, with the help of the little girl, that Congress — somehow, some way — will muster the courage and the votes to pass sweeping legislation before the November election.
“We can’t give up,” he said.
Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (girl who spoke about immigration to first lady Michelle Obama)