Mayte Lara Ibarra, this year's Valedictorian of Crockett High School in Austin Texas has created some controversy with her tweet regarding her achievement, and something else.
As anyone can imagine, it took courage to mention the fact that she is 'undocumented,' and Mayte, like millions of others lacking documentation, must live without the protections that American Citizens enjoy.
It is an unfortunate reality that people think of undocumented immigrants as poorly educated, lazy or in some cases, rapists or drug dealers. Without a name or face, people don't view the plight of undocumented people as the real humanitarian crisis it is.
Trump and his sycophants are most assuredly against any immigrant, no matter what their academic achievements may be. Here's one of the many ugly replies that Ibarra received before she took down her Twitter account:
@maytelara29 Congrats on your accomplishment. After we deport you, perhaps you can return in a way that doesn't make you a criminal.
— Wolf-Alpha Project (@WolfAlphaProjct) June 4, 2016
Trump and the GOP's haters are hoping for retribution against this bright young lady. However, there's some legal protections that she has been granted. Thanks Obama!
Undocumented students are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). In 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the U.S. as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years. In Texas, House Bill 1403—which passed in 2001 and is also known as the DREAM Act—allows certain immigrants to receive in-state tuition if they meet certain requirements.
Last year, the DREAM Act came under scrutiny at the Capitol when some state lawmakers were pushing for the repeal of the law.
A spokesperson for the University of Texas at Austin says while they can’t say anything specifically about Ibarra, the university along with other Texas universities, “have for decades granted two-semester tuition waivers to valedictorians of Texas public high schools, 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.”
Ibarra isn't the only undocumented valedictorian (that we know of). Our C&L colleague, Scarce, reported here about another Texas High School Graduate, Larissa Martinez, who revealed that she is also undocumented. Unlike Ibarra, Martinez revealed her status in her Valedictorian address.
Both ladies may just open up more eyes to the dilemma of millions who work hard and do everything right, but can't meet the stringent requirements of U.S. citizenship. In fact, most of us know someone who is in this dire predicament. They are likely to be contributing members of society for whom America is the only country they have ever known.
When more people are educated, these ugly stereotypes eventually disappear. It's only a matter of time until these misanthropes fade into the shadows like Confederates and Tea Party 'patriots,' all fueled by misinformation, ignorance, hate and fear. Education is the panacea to fix the woes of society; how long it takes is up to us.