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Texas Valedictorian Tweets She's Undocumented, Sparks Backlash

The reaction came after the high school graduate tweeted about her 4.5 GPA, her college scholarship, and the fact that she was undocumented.

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An Austin, Texas, valedictorian posted a tweet last week touting her academic accomplishments, "full tuition" university scholarship, and undocumented status, setting off a flurry of backlash against the recent high school graduate.

@maytelara29 / Via nbcnews.com

Mayte Lara Ibarra's tweet, which she posted on Friday, was retweeted by more than 9,400 people and received nearly 20,000 likes before the account was deleted. While she received some positive responses, many threatened to have her deported and called the David Crockett High School grad a criminal.

One person sent Ibarra a screenshot of what appeared to be a tip to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

@maytelara29 I did it legally, nobody should get a short cut.

@maytelara29 So you stole the spot of a legal citizen and the possible scholarship for a legal citizen?

Another used an illustration of Donald Trump with the message "You have to go back."

@maytelara29 #DeportationForce coming to a dorm near you. #MAGA

In Texas, undocumented students are eligible for state financial aid and can pay in-state tuition as long as they meet certain provisions, such as having graduated from a state high school or received a GED.

Despite receiving numerous negative messages, Ibarra also received supportive tweets.

When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. #MayteLara

When ppl are mad bc they're not doing shit w their lives but tweeting &putting down others<< GET A LIFE other than talking shit. #MayteLara

Matte Lara is an inspiration. Make these people even madder girl. Screw everyone trying to put her down ✌🏻️ #MayteLara

Dear #MayteLara, i am beyond proud of you! Documented or Undocumented You worked hard!Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA and a Fullride! #YouEarnedIt

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Lara said she sent out the tweet to show what undocumented immigrants can overcome and show people she was proud of her Mexican heritage, not disrespect anyone.

"I tweeted that to highlight my achievements and show people that you can accomplish anything, no matter where you come from or what you're seen as, and whatever obstacles you have in front of you," Lara said. "I want people to know that there's thousands of students like myself, and all we want is to continue our education to make a positive impact in our community. I'm grateful for all the support I've received these last couple of days, it's definitely helped deal with all the negative comments."

Lara said she was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a protection from deportation program that legalizes her status and allows her to obtain a Social Security number and work permit. For now she's no longer considered undocumented.

"But I'm still seen as undocumented by people because this doesn't give me a road to citizenship, unfortunately," Lara said. "I want people to know that there's thousands of students like myself, and all we want is to continue our education to make a positive impact in our community."

Lara told the Austin American-Statesman she deactivated her Twitter account after receiving all the negative comments and probably wont reactivate it.

"I feel that all the harassment wasn't necessary. But there's always going to be negative people who say negative things, rather than highlight my accomplishments," Lara said. "I'm grateful for all the support I've received these last couple of days, it's definitely helped deal with all the negative comments."

In a statement, University of Texas at Austin said it has "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," Kylie Fitzpatrick, a media relations specialist at UT-Austin, said in a statement to KXAN. "University policies reflect that law."

At her high school graduation ceremony on June 3, Ibarra introduced the Pledge of Allegiance and one for the Texas flag.

vimeo.com

"Look forward with excitement to what lies ahead and celebrate this moment because it's yours to enjoy," Ibarra said in her speech. "And remember, what is coming is better than what is gone."

Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.

Contact Adolfo Flores at adolfo.flores@buzzfeed.com.

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