This is what happened after a Yale-bound valedictorian in Texas revealed she is an undocumented immigrant:https://t.co/YamQEsiKjt
— Mic (@mic) June 9, 2016
Not unlike Mayte, Larissa Martinez also graduated valedictorian of her class in McKinney, Texas with a 4.95 GPA and 17 AP classes under her belt. She also lives in the United States undocumented, and she aired her grievances in her valedictory speech, along with her woes regarding Donald Trump. Headed to Yale in the fall on scholarships, Larissa is reported as having crossed the border along with her mother and sister in 2010.
Among the powerful points Larissa made in her speech, which you can watch above, she reminds us that “The most important part of the [illegal immigration] debate and the part most often overlooked is the fact that immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, are people, too. People with dreams, aspirations, hopes, and loved ones […] People who have become a part of the American society and way of life and who yearn to help make America great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice.”
And yet there has been a turbulent explosion in reaction to both Mayte and Larissa’s proud announcements. The internet is lashing out at them for having the audacity to admit to their legal status, or for having come into America in the first place.
Fueled by racist misconceptions as to what being undocumented actually means, and no doubt empowered by Trump’s normalization of hateful antics, people took to social media to express their vitriol towards Mayte and Larissa.
In these posts, mentions of Trump and “build the wall” abounded. The terminology of these tweets reveals a vocabulary of ingrained hatred and prejudice. To those who opt to refer to them as “illegal aliens” or “illegals,” I remind you that it is impossible for a human being to be “illegal.”
Entitlement and Ignorance
When scanning the many hate-tweets directed at Mayte, Larissa, and no one in particular, it’s amazing to see the sense of entitlement that some people have. For example, the tweet above is charging Mayte with stealing educational benefits from Americans, when in reality Mayte worked harder than her peers and earned her accolades. Furthermore, the University of Texas offers special support for undocumented students.