WASHINGTON: Two Texas high school valedictorians have become the unlikely focus of a fierce debate over immigration after they admitted to being “undocumented immigrants” in their graduation speeches.
“I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the United States,” said Larissa Martinez, one of the two. A valedictorian is a student having the highest academic achievement in the class and get to deliver the graduation ceremony speech.
Mayte Lara Ibarra set the ball rolling with a tweet about her graduation days before. She ended the tweet, which has since been removed, saying, “Oh and I’m undocumented”.
Martinez, who has sad her family has been waiting for seven years for citizenship, went further. “America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice,” she said according to a local TV news station.
That was a clear reference to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.
Their remarks drew instant applause and opprobriums from those in favour of or opposed to granting undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.
“So Larissa Martinez admitted that she is an undocumented immigrant and is getting praised for it. Am I missing something?” read a tweet from an opponent.
But the two students — Martinez is headed for Yale and Ibara for the University of Texas — found plenty of support, online and offline, with many her them inspiring.
The future of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States has been the subject of a fierce ongoing debate that has surge in recent months of because of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric.