A Texas valedictorian is facing online backlash after claiming that she is an undocumented immigrant on Twitter.
“Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented,” Mayte Lara Ibarra wrote in the tweet from an account that has since been deleted.
The tweet, posted June 3, was retweeted by more than 9,000 people and received nearly 20,000 likes before the account was deleted. The 17-year-old’s statement also sparked a major backlash, with some threatening to have Lara deported and others demanding she be stripped of her financial aid.
Following the backlash, Lara said that while she could have chosen better words, her intention was to encourage other students facing obstacles.
“The reason I posted that tweet was to show others that you can accomplish anything, regardless of the obstacles you have in front of you,” she told the The Austin American-Statesman.
“I just want everyone to understand that my tweet wasn’t made to mock anyone,” she continued. “I just wanted to show that no matter what barriers you have in front of you, you can still succeed.”
Lara says she has lived in the U.S. for most of her life and been a resident of Austin for 15 years. The Crockett High School graduate has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, an immigration policy that allows certain young people who entered the U.S. as children to work and study in the country legally.
And as for objections to her receiving a scholarship from a state university, Texas state law “does not distinguish between documented and undocumented graduates of Texas high schools in admissions and financial aid decisions,” University of Texas spokesman Gary Susswein told The Statesman.
Lara said the hate that has been directed at her has left her fearful for herself and her family.
“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,” she said.
Last week, another Texas valedictorian revealed that she and her family are undocumented immigrants during her commencement speech.
“On July 11 it will be exactly six years since I moved to McKinney from Mexico City where I was born and raised,” Larissa Martinez revealed in her speech at McKinney Boyd High School.
“When people see me up here … they seem to think I’ve got my life figured out. At the age of 11, I was nothing but the girl with an abusive and alcoholic father,” she continued. “A girl whose only dream was to become an American and who thought moving countries would solve all of the problems in her life.”
Martinez also used her speech to question presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policy towards Mexico. “America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice,” she said.
The graduate, who received a full scholarship to Yale, was met with a standing ovation from her classmates following her speech.