Two Undocumented Valedictorians Attract Attention Online
Two high school valedictorians in Texas drew national attention for publicly identifying themselves as undocumented early this week.
Mayte Lara Ibarra and Larissa Martinez made their voices heard by exposing their undocumented status – Ibarra through her social media account post, Martinez through her valedictory speech.
Many view these statements as a reaction to presumptive Republican candidate Donald J. Trump’s vow to create a wall across the US border to prevent illegal immigration.
Several hours Ibarra after gave her speech at David Crockett High School in Austin, she posted a tweet which reads “Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented.”
Ibarra however, did not disclose how she got to the United States and also did not mention about her undocumented status in her speech.
She instead tackled different matters such as AP tests, proms, pep rallies and her plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin on a scholarship.
On that same day in Mc Kinney, Texas, Larissa Martinez, a McKinney Boyd valedictorian, addressed her campus’ crowd with her valedictory speech, which she used to tell her audience about her undocumented status.
In the same speech, Martinez retold her journey when she was growing up; on how she crossed the border in 2010 from Mexico with her mother and sister, on how people questioned her grades and how she performed well despite her Latino roots and ultimately her struggles to obtain, what she called as “priced American status.”
In her speech, Yale-bound Martinez criticized Trump’s plans of building a wall and said,
“I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the United States. I decided to stand before you today and reveal these unexpected realities, because this might be my only chance to convey the truth to all of you that undocumented immigrants are people, too…people with dreams, aspirations, hopes and loved ones, people like me, people who have become a part of the American society and way of life and who yearn to help make American great again—without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice.”
The two girls drew flaks on social media and received deportation threats as well.
With Ibarra’s post reaching almost 10,000 re-tweets, the same attracted several support messages from her friends and as well as criticisms, racial memes and threats of deportation.
One tweet said that he did it (immigrate to the United States) legally and that nobody should get a shortcut.
Another person also tweeted a screenshot suggesting that a tip to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had just been reported, while some directly complained to CVS pharmacy, where Ibarra worked.
In her defense, Ibarra stressed that she was just two years old when she came to Austin from Mexico and that she received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
This deferral however does not automatically give recipients full legal status, but allows them only to obtain work authorization which can be renewed every two years.