CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Culture

Outrage after high school valedictorian tweets that she's undocumented

Technically Incorrect: Mayte Lara Ibarra has a 4.5 GPA and is going to the University of Texas. And one tweet has made her famous, with all that fame entails -- Twitter fame, that is.

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


You're giddy.

You've going to leave your high school behind.

You can thank the good teachers and snub the ones who made your skin turn to cobblestones.

One small piece of advice: I'm not sure Twitter is the best place to express all your feelings.

I mention this because of Mayte Lara Ibarra. She seemed happy when she graduated as valedictorian from David Crockett High School in Austin, Texas.

But then she expressed her happiness on Twitter: "Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I'm undocumented."

You can imagine that not everyone was uplifted by this tweet. So much so that it's now been removed, as has her whole Twitter account.

"You are exactly what Mexico needs,"tweeted someone with the screen name of Komissar Kokkeler. "Time for you to go home."

And then there was the sensitive tweet from a Twitter user by the name of Dana P. Dutcher: "I just hired a PI to track you down and have charges filed against you with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. it was worth it."

The US-Mexico border gate at Tijuana.

The US-Mexico border gate at Tijuana.

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Here, it seemed, was a student termed by some as "illegal" getting a free ride through college. In the current climate of chin-jutting, chest-puffing and wall-building, such a tweet is going to get a reaction.

Ibarra told KVUE-TV that she's not undocumented and that her tweet wasn't mocking undocumented students.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that she qualifies for free tuition because of her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. This allows those who came to the US as children to legally receive education and work assistance.

Technically, she is undocumented. She doesn't qualify for federal aid programs such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In Texas, though, some undocumented students qualify for in-state tuition fees.

Attempts to contact Ibarra were unsuccessful. David Crockett High School didn't respond to a request for comment.

University of Texas spokesman Gary Susswein told me that the university couldn't discuss an individual student. However, he said, "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."

Some might wonder, though, how Ibarra explained her tweet. She told the American-Statesman: "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 said she didn't feel she was alone in tweeting about her achievements.

"It was a common trend on twitter to highlight your success through a tweet like that, and I saw many other students from across the country doing the same and sharing the things they'd overcome, so I thought I'd share mine," she told the American-Statesman.

She said that she hopes to find a path to permanent residency and citizenship. She admitted that she might have chosen her words better.

But now, thanks to one tweet, Ibarra is famous in perhaps the last way she wanted.

Social media has taught us to proclaim our very selves to the world.

It's not taught us so well how to deal with the reaction.