Two Texas Valedictorians Receive Backlash After Declaring Undocumented Status
Mayte Lara Ibarra and Larissa Martinez both graduated from Texas high schools as valedictorians on the same day. They both took the opportunity to stand firm in their beliefs and declare their status as undocumented citizens that immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, according to the New York Times.
Ibarra chose to do so in celebration of her graduation in a tweet that read, “Valedictorian, 4.5GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented,” on her now deleted Twitter account.
Martinez actually included the declaration in her valedictorian speech to her classmates and took some time to focus on the anti-immigration speech Donald Trump has used as a foundation for his campaign.
“America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice,” said Ms. Martinez, according to a local ABC affiliate.
Martinez has plans to attend Yale and study medicine while Ibarra will attend the University of Texas – Austin, which has a system in place that offers support to undocumented students and has a large Hispanic student population.
“State law also does not distinguish between documented and undocumented graduates of Texas high schools in admissions and financial aid decisions,” said Gary Susswein, a spokesman for the University of Texas. “University policies reflect that law.”
Ibarra will benefit from a system that the University of Texas has which awards every high school valedictorian with a two semester scholarship.
With no surprise given the opinions some people have about undocumented citizens, especially in a time where Donald Trump has a chance to become president, many came forward to show their disapproval with the students, including the parents of their classmates.
“I have never thought about deporting a child who graduated from a U.S. high school and fought against the odds to be successful. Until this moment,” Hillary Shay Davis, whose daughter was Ibarra’s classmate, wrote on Facebook. She added, “Something else that I have NEVER thought I would support until this moment is Trump and #buildthatwall.”
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and fellow declared undocumented citizen spoke out in support of both women and Ibarra, specifically.
“This young woman is not taking somebody else’s spot,” he said of the waivers. “She’s not getting special treatment. She is getting that because she graduated as valedictorian, and that’s how it is in Texas.”
Photo Source: KTLA 5 News Screenshot