Valedictorian Mayte Lara Ibarra has been facing an onslaught of vile hate speech on Twitter after proudly tweeting that she, an intelligent and successful young woman with a full-ride scholarship to University of Texas, is an undocumented Mexican immigrant. Verbal assaults have ranged from attacks on her for using U.S. taxpayer money to fund her education, and accusations of her being “a criminal,” to straight up racism. Ibarra has been thrown under the bus for having a public scholarship out of sheer ignorance and unjust hostility; in Texas, scholarships for undocumented immigrants is nothing new.
Media relations specialist for UT, Kylie Fitzpatrick, gave a statement that, “in accordance with state law, Texas universities — including the University of Texas schools — 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 is facing vicious attacks from right-wing internet zealots because she was brave enough to identify herself as undocumented in a particularly contentious time in immigration politics, especially as Donald Trump continues to spew racist attacks on Hispanics and other minority groups.
Ibarra’s outstanding achievements and promise to be a great benefit to American society and economic progress for years to come, has been undermined and belittled by the ignorant online hive-mind, who have stooped so low as to call a young woman who was brought to America as a minor a “criminal.” Donald Trump’s infamous “Mexican wall” diatribe has fueled the furor as internet conservatives level insulting memes at the poor girl, like one featuring a grotesque caricature of a Mexican immigrant being thrown over the wall by a grinning Trump. Lately, conservative immigration “policy” has become visibly less about policy and more about inaccurate and racist portrayals of Hispanics. The Hispanic community has been turned into a scapegoat by right-wing xenophobes who try to compensate for their own sense of inadequacy by lying to themselves, and the country, about the richness, importance, and value of Hispanics in America.
America is a country founded by immigrants, and the diversity of peoples who have blended into the melting pot have enriched our society and our economy for generations, making our nation the unique superpower that it is today. Past waves of immigration have stoked fears and racist attacks, but every single time the immigrants have quickly become a part of the diverse population that has been making America great throughout history. There is no excuse for anti-Hispanic attacks – it is ignorant racism that has no place in America. Cowardly keyboard warriors have no right to take away the achievements that Ibarra earned through her hard work and dedication, and they reveal their spiteful, racist agenda by belittling an innocent 18 year old on the internet. Our country should be better than this.
Here’s a small sample of their tweets.
“For every undocumented immigrate that is a valedictorian there’s 100 that are 130 labs carrying 75 lbs of drugs on their backs” -Rep King
— ✨Star✨ (@angelstar2) July 24, 2013
@realkingrobbo Send her valedictorian/undocumented/illegal ass back to Mx. Let’s see how well Mexico takes care of her.
— AMERICANfemina (@LatinaFemina) June 5, 2016
Mayte Lara should be deported immediately for her flaunting her law breaking. We are a nation of laws. immigrate legally #BuildThatWall
— Nick (@TheNick_463) June 7, 2016
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.