Thursday January 24, 2019
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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

SHARE
  • 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

Firefly Aerospace Inc Plans to Build a Factory at Cape Canaveral

NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface.

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A Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket stands ready for launch on pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018 VOA

Firefly Aerospace Inc, a resurgent rocket company founded by a former SpaceX engineer, plans to build a factory and launch site at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Spaceport in a $52 million deal, people familiar with the project said on Wednesday.

The Firefly project is strategically important for the Cedar Park, Texas-based startup as it competes with several other new entrants vying to cash in on a big jump in the number of small satellites expected in the coming years.

Companies like Firefly, billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, and the U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, are among the most promising companies designing miniaturized launch systems to link a broader swath of the economy to space at lower cost.

Firefly and Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority, declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements.

Russian Rocket
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

Beginning around 2020, around 800 small satellites are expected to launch annually, more than double the annual average over the past decade, according to Teal Group analyst Marco Caceres.

The boom is fueled in part by new venture cash and technology leaps that have reduced the size of satellites used for everything from communications to national security.

A Florida project code-named “Maricopa” was publicly disclosed in November by Space Florida, but officials have been tight-lipped on specifics. Two people familiar with the project said Firefly is the company involved, though one of the people said the deal had not been finalized.

Firefly aims for a first flight in December of its Alpha rocket, which is capable of carrying around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit at a cost of about $15 million per flight.

NASA, tissue
Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha.

By comparison, it can cost around $62 million for a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 with a payload topping 50,000 pounds (22,700 kg).

Firefly, founded around 2014 by former SpaceX and NASA engineer Tom Markusic, says its main competitors are government-subsidized foreign ones like the Indian Space Research Organization.

Asset management firm Noosphere Ventures bought Firefly’s assets in 2017 after it nearly shut down when a key European investor backed out. That resulted in the cancellation of a $5.5 million NASA contract for small satellite launches.

Also Read: NASA Planning to Use Blockchain Technology For Air Traffic Management

Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha and a higher-capacity Beta rocket around 2021. It was not clear when the Florida expansion would be completed.

In November, NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface. (VOA)