Mayte Lara Ibarra, a high school valedictorian with a ticket for a full-ride to the University of Texas, was living the American dream in Austin – until she tweeted about her "undocumented" status.
On her Twitter page, which has since been deactivated, the graduate of Crockett High School wrote: "Valedictorian, 4.5GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I'm undocumented."
After receiving more than 9,400 retweets, almost 20,000 likes, and a storm of negative backlash and threats, Ibarra deactivated her Twitter account, NBC News
“I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to twitter, I’ve realized that social media is filled with so many mean people, who always have something to say," the 17-year-old told the Austin American-Statesman
. "But I just want everyone to understand that my tweet wasn’t made to mock anyone. I just wanted to show that no matter what barriers you have in front of you, you can still succeed. And I do pay taxes, have a DACA which allows me to work and study here, and I have a social security number.”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, instituted in 2012, allows people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to request a deportation deferral and gain work authorization, The Washington Post
A University of Texas spokesman told KXAN-TV
that state law allows Texas universities to grant tuition waivers to the state's high school valedictorians without regard to their residency status.
"State law also does not distinguish between documented and undocumented graduates of Texas high schools in admissions and financial aid decisions. University policies reflect that law," Kylie Fitzpatrick, a media relations specialist at UT Austin, said in a statement.
Ibarra didn't mention her immigration status in her graduation speech, unlike another undocumented valedictorian in Texas.
With a full-ride scholarship to Yale and dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon, McKinney Boyd High School valedictorian Larissa Martinez took a political stand in her speech, announcing her undocumented status and saying: "America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice," WFAA-TV
Ibarra's tweet sparked a flood of responses from supportive and outraged Twitter users.
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