Crockett High School graduate Mayte Lara Ibarra never would have imagined one tweet after graduation would get such a reaction.
Last Friday, after walking across the stage Ibarra sent a tweet out saying "Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I'm undocumented." The post went viral in a matter of minutes with over 9,000 retweets and nearly 19,000 likes. Reaction was mixed, with some people excited for Ibarra and others not.
Ibarra declined to be interviewed on camera but did speak to KVUE on the phone Wednesday. She stated it is a misunderstanding, she is not undocumented, and she never wanted to make a mockery of undocumented students. Ibarra's friend Melanie Romero said it's upsetting to see how many people are so against Ibarra.
"She worked hard to get to where she is now I just don't understand it," Romero said.
Edlisa Lopez with University Leadership Initiative at UT Austin, a program that works with undocumented students, worries about the consequences Ibarra's tweet could have.
"I do hope that she is not lying about her status because being undocumented is not easy, it's not something that you can play with," Lopez said.
Undocumented students are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. In 2001, Texas lawmakers passed the DREAM Act which allows certain immigrants to receive in-state tuition if they meet requirements. UT officials sent KVUE the following statement:
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 has deleted her twitter account since sending out the tweet.