There’s no way to sugar coat this; right now we are experiencing some rather turbulent times in the western world. Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign has stirred up — on a national level — some of the disdain that only border states in the southern part of the United States have really had to deal with, which is immigration from Mexico. People seem more incensed than ever at the idea of their tax dollars being used to care for and educate people who aren’t full US citizens, under this guise that illegal immigrants — especially those from south of the border — are somehow lazy leeches looking to just drive down property values and relax on our dime.
Reality probably isn’t exactly like that. In fact, a Texas high school student has become the center of a national debate after tweeting about her “undocumented” status. BuzzFeed has the scoop on the tweet and the subsequent backlash that Mayte Lara Ibarra of Austin, Texas has received after sending out a rather controversial tweet on June 3rd. The tweet from a now-deleted account showed Ibarra posing in her cap alongside her family while listing her achievements; “Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented.”
First of all, kudos to her use of commas here. Most people ignore using punctuation on Twitter and it can be a bit frustrating at times. But seriously, this girl worked hard for everything that she has achieved and has done better than most of us who were born here could say. I know that I didn’t try in high school — like at all — which in a way shows privilege and not taking advantage of the opportunities handed to me on a silver platter beacuse I wanted to skateboard, play heavy metal and blow shit up instead of do school work. This girl came to America and made something of herself, but she’s “undocumented” so people on the internet are losing their minds.
The hate seems to ignore the fact that Mayte Lara has achieved great success and that really, her story is the embodiment of the American Dream. That point hasn’t fallen on deaf ears, though, as some have been pushing back and publicly applauding her for all of her hard work and dedication, understanding that she didn’t have an easy road to get to where she is and that her statement was incredibly brave.
You can watch her give a speech at Crockett High’s graduation ceremony where she muses on life in high school and what the future will bring.
Her Twitter account has been gone for almost a week now and the tide of public sentiment has moved in her favor, but hopefully her bold statement doesn’t get her or her family into more trouble. Media Relations at University of Texas has already spoken out about her status and her scholarship to UT, saying that Texas state law doesn’t rule out the tuition reimbursement that they give to high school valedictorians due to immigration status, so she hasn’t lost her chance at UT, at least. Her and her family have also shied away from the press since the media firestorm.