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How In Texas, Two Undocumented Immigrants from Mexico became Valedictorians

Yale and the University of Texas have issued statements saying the young women's scholarships are not in jeopardy

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Welcome to Texas Sign. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Martinez said her family applied for citizenship shortly after arriving in the U.S. and have been waiting since then for their application to be processed
  • Two high school valedictorians in the southern U.S. state of Texas have revealed they are undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
  • The Yale-bound student said what is often overlooked in the immigrant debate is “the fact that immigrants, undocumented or otherwise are people, too

Two high school valedictorians in the southern U.S. state of Texas have revealed they are undocumented immigrants from Mexico.

Both have received college scholarships – one to Yale, the other to the University of Texas.

Larissa Martinez came to the United States in 2010 with her mother and sister, she said, to escape from her alcoholic and abusive father. The three now live in a one-bedroom apartment in McKinley, Texas.

“I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows,” the teenager said in her address to her fellow graduates who did not know about her status.

The Yale-bound student said what is often overlooked in the immigrant debate is “the fact that immigrants, undocumented or otherwise are people, too…. People with dreams, aspirations, hopes and loved ones.  People like me.”

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Martinez also took a swipe at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who has said if he becomes president he will build a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep out Mexicans.  He has characterized such migrants as criminals and rapists.

“America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice,” Martinez said in her address to her classmates.

Martinez said her family applied for citizenship shortly after arriving in the U.S. and have been waiting since then for their application to be processed.

Unlike Martinez, another valedictorian, this time in Austin, Texas, waited until after her speech to reveal her undocumented status.

Militia Groups Called to Texas Border to Halt Invasion of Illegal Immigrants. Image source: www.dcclothesline.com
Militia Groups Called to Texas Border to Halt Invasion of Illegal Immigrants. Image source: www.dcclothesline.com

Mayte Lara Ibarra shared the information in a tweet:  ” Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA, full tuition paid for at UT…nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented.”

Ibarra says she came to the U.S. from Mexico illegally when she was about two years old, but has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows children in the U.S. illegally to request deportation deferral. DACA does not, however, provide a path to citizenship, but does allow people to work and receive Social Security cards.

She has received a lot of criticism because she included a Mexican flag in her tweet about her status.

She told The Statesman newspaper “The only reason I used that emoji was to show that I’m proud of my heritage and to show that we can do great things.”

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“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 told The Statesman.

Both students have received encouragement and criticism on social media.  Some people believe the teenagers are breaking the law and prohibiting an American student from attending college.  Others have praised the students’ hard work.

Yale and the University of Texas have issued statements saying the young women’s scholarships are not in jeopardy. (VOA)

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  • AJ Krish

    The struggle faced by immigrants is hardly noticed.Overcoming all the challenges ,these students have indeed shown true determination. The stand of US government on undocumented immigrants must be changed. It was good to hear that even after all the trouble ,their scholarships are not in jeopardy.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    It was good to hear that their scholarships are safe

  • AJ Krish

    The struggle faced by immigrants is hardly noticed.Overcoming all the challenges ,these students have indeed shown true determination. The stand of US government on undocumented immigrants must be changed. It was good to hear that even after all the trouble ,their scholarships are not in jeopardy.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    It was good to hear that their scholarships are safe

Next Story

Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US

Gurbir S Grewal has been nominated to be the next attorney general of US and would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in United States

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US.
Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US. Facebook
  • Gurbir S Grewal is nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US
  • He would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position

In a historic first, a distinguished Sikh public prosecutor “who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand” has been nominated to be the next attorney general of the US state of New Jersey.

If Gurbir S. Grewal’s nomination by Democrat Governor-elect Phil Murphy is approved by the State Senate early next year, he will be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in the United States and the second Indian-American, after Kamala Harris, who held the position in California before her election to the US Senate.

Announcing the nomination in the state capital, Trenton, on Tuesday, Murphy said: “In light of all that is being thrown at us by the president, we need an attorney general unafraid to join our fellow states in using the law to protect all New Jersey residents.”

Grewal, 44, is the prosecutor of Bergen County, an important district across the river from New York city. He was appointed to by the current Republican Governor Chris Christie and that is likely to mute any opposition the senate.

Symbolic of the public acceptance of minorities despite scattered incidents of bigotry, two Sikhs were elected mayors last month, Ravi Bhalla in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Preet Didbal in Yuba City, California.

Vin Gopal, who became the first Indian-American to be elected to the New Jersey State Senate last month, said that Grewal is someone “not only eminently qualified, but who will bring a perspective to the office that is diverse and long-overdue.”

After Murphy made the announcement, Grewal said: “I wanted to give back to a country that has given us and other immigrant families like us so much.”

Turning to his three daughters, Kyrpa, Mayher and Mahek, who were with him, he said: “As someone who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand throughout my life, I wanted to work to ensure we all live in and that the three of you grow up in a fair and just society.”

Grewal added: “I wanted to perhaps also show people that while I and others like me may look different or worship differently, that we, too, are committed to this country.”

Hailing Grewal’s nomination, Rajwant Singh, the co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign, said: “These are exactly the kind of role models our youngsters need to feel proud of being a Sikh and an American.”

“While America could be seen having a very polarized situation politically and yet there are some very shining moments to show that people of all backgrounds can aspire for top positions,” he added.

South Asian Bar Association President Rishi Bagga, said: “The decision to appoint a visible minority as the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey reflects the diversity of the state and of the US, and is especially important in a time where minorities and immigrants have often felt targeted by law enforcement.”

Attorney General is a very powerful position New Jersey heading the Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the state police.

Grewal has earlier served as an assistant federal prosecutor in New York and in New Jersey, where he was also the chief of the Economic Crimes Unit.

In the administration of former President Barack Obama, Indian Americans have held senior law positions. Neal Kumar Katyal was an Acting Solicitor General.

Sri Srinivasan, now a federal appeals court judge in Washington, did a stint as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General.

Vanita Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

US President Donald Trump has appointed Uttam Dhillon to be his special assistant and associate counsel. (IANS)

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Thanksgiving Day Across the World

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated across the world and for each country, it has its own tale and tradition around food and days.

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Thanksgiving Day celebrations
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving Day. The name stands for itself as the day to give thanks and is celebrated as a national holiday in many countries like United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Grenada, Liberia while similarly named festival exists in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving holiday remains a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

America
The official date for the American Thanksgiving that exists today was set by President Roosevelt to be on the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November as decided by President Lincoln as thanksgiving date.
But their thanksgiving is surrounded by a debate over the nation’s first celebrations and the two places embroiled in this debate are New England and Virginia as both the places provide certain proofs of being the spot for nation’s first celebrations for Thanksgiving.

Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated in the true spirit of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. It is believed that due to the geographical differences from the USA, Canada’s Thanksgiving arrives on the second Monday in October as that is the close of their harvest season.

But in countries like Liberia, Netherlands, and Grenada, it is not just a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Liberia
In Liberia, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated to mark the freedom from black slavery by the U.S.A. The Thanksgiving day’s date remains on the first Thursday of November and has been a tradition since 1820.

Netherlands
Netherlands celebrate thanksgiving to mark to commemorate the Pilgrims who had migrated and became residents of the city of Leiden and died at Pieterskerk. To commemorate the hospitality, the thanksgiving, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the same as American Thanksgiving Day’s morning.

But there are some countries like the Philippines where the tradition of Thanksgiving only arrived with the Americans due to it being an American colony in the early 20th century but the tradition of Thanksgiving there had seemed to die down.

Food:
The American Thanksgiving seems to dominate the Thanksgiving menu when it comes to this holiday. Their famous turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes, and yams are signature dishes related to this day.

Black Friday:
Not only food, American Thanksgiving has also made Black Friday, an informal day following the Thanksgiving Day to mark the beginning of their country’s Christmas season sales and it has been in the history books since 1952 such that it has become a tradition of its own now.

Thanksgiving Day remains an occasion for many families to get back together and celebrate this holiday in the spirit of one while giving the rise to the excitement of upcoming Christmas also which remains barely a month away from Thanksgiving day.

Samridhi Nain is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

 

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Texas Gunman Practiced Target on Animals Ahead of the Shooting Massacre: Ex Colleague

Jessika Edwards, who worked with Kelley at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2012, said Kelley told her that he was "using the dogs as target practice".

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Texas gunman
Markers are seen at the front f the building as law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (VOA)

Washington, November 10, 2017 : Devin Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 persons inside a church in Texas, had claimed that he bought animals for target practice, according to a former Air Force colleague.

Jessika Edwards, who worked with Kelley at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2012, said Kelley told her that he was “using the dogs as target practice”.

ALSO READ Texas Mass Shooting: ‘It isn’t a guns situation, but a mental problem’, Says Trump

The morbid admission came in Facebook messages starting in 2014, Edwards told CNN.

Though Edwards was not sure if the Texas gunman was telling the truth, the odd behavior was enough for her to stop communicating with him.

Kelley was accused in 2014 of punching a dog in Colorado. He initially pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, but the case was dismissed after he paid fines.

Edwards said the Texas gunman also displayed a fascination with mass murders while he was enlisted in the Air Force.

“He would make jokes about
wanting to kill somebody…
And we would say,
‘wait, that’s not funny’.”

The obsession was so pronounced, Edwards said, that when Kelley was disciplined for poor performance she told her bosses to “back off or he would shoot the place up”.

“He was always getting into trouble… It was problem after problem,” Edwards said.

A law enforcement source confirmed to CNN that FBI agents interviewed Edwards about her interactions with the gunman.

In 2012, Kelley was court-martialed and convicted for assaulting his wife and stepson.

Edwards said those domestic problems boiled over in the job and Kelley would come in depressed and unfocused.

After the shooting massacre on November 5, the Air Force has been criticised for failing to notify federal law enforcement officials of Kelley’s conviction.

Kelley was dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest when he attacked the church in Sutherland Springs, a quiet town some 45 km southeast of San Antonio.

The victims ranged from under two-years-old to 77. (IANS)