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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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  • 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

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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

Next Story

Dubious Care And Big Bucks By GoFundMe: Study

The American Cancer Society's deputy chief medical officer, said it's important to consider what may drive some patients to turn to unproven remedies.

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cancer, cellphone
A radiologist examines the brain X-rays of a patient. In a small study, patients with brain tumors were given genetically modified poliovirus, which helped their bodies attack the cancer. VOA

People seeking dubious, potentially harmful treatment for cancer and other ailments raised nearly $7 million over two years from crowdfunding sites, a study found.

Echoing recent research on campaigns for stem cell therapies, the findings raise more questions about an increasingly popular way to help pay for costly, and sometimes unproven, medical care.

Soliciting money on GoFundMe and other sites eliminates doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and other “gatekeepers” that can be a barrier to expensive treatment, said lead author Dr. Ford Vox, an ethicist and brain injury expert at Shepherd Center rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta. He calls it “the democratization of economic power through social media” but says it can pose an ethical dilemma.

Online fundraising “has a big bright side” when it helps patients pay for legitimate care, he said. “Communities are really being able to rally around people in rough times. That’s fantastic, but there is this very clear dark side” when treatments sought are worthless or even dangerous.

Breast Cancer
This undated fluorescence-colored microscope image made available by the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 shows a culture of human breast cancer cells. For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. VOA

His study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

GoFundMe says campaigns for medical care are increasing and are among the most numerous on its site. They include solicitations for conventional treatment and for unproven alternative therapies.

“We always encourage people to fully research whatever it is they are raising money for and to be absolutely transparent on their GoFundMe page, so donors can make an informed decision on what they’re donating to,” GoFundMe said in an emailed statement.

The researchers examined campaigns posted from November 2015 through mid-December 2017, mostly on GoFundMe. They focused on five treatments sought in about 1,000 campaigns: homeopathy or naturopathy for cancer; hyperbaric oxygen for brain injuries; stem cells for brain or spinal cord injuries; and long-term antibiotics for persistent Lyme disease.

 

Cancers
Women receive cancer treatment at The National Oncology Center in Sanaa, Yemen. VOA

 

While some patients swear they’ve benefited from some of the treatments, there is no rigorous scientific evidence that any of them work for the conditions involved, the researchers said.

The most numerous were solicitations for homeopathy or naturopathy for cancer — 474 requests seeking more than $12 million. About one-quarter of that was raised.

Homeopathic products typically contain heavily diluted drugs, vitamins or minerals said to promote healing, although some have been found to contain toxic amounts. Naturopathy, another alternative medicine practice, sometimes uses homeopathic products, herbs and dietary supplements or body cleanses.

Michelle Drapeau has raised about $7,000 on GoFundMe for homeopathy and other alternative remedies since being diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer in February 2017. The 45-year-old investment banker from West Palm Beach, Florida, credits them with keeping her alive since she stopped chemotherapy over a year ago.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient, flickr

“I wanted to make sure I explored every and all options,” Drapeau said. “It’s vital for everyone to have that opportunity.”

Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer, said it’s important to consider what may drive some patients to turn to unproven remedies. U.S. health care costs are exorbitant and many patients run out of money trying to pay them.

And despite considerable progress against cancer and other illnesses, conventional treatment can’t cure every patient, he noted.

“We should not be judgmental and come out and say this is terrible,” Lichtenfeld said.

Also Read: Nature Gives You A Major Boost In Improving Your Mental Health

“No one wants to hear, ‘You have cancer,’ and especially no one wants to hear that there’s no treatment available that can help you,” he said. “You begin to understand why people may turn to unproven treatments and you can understand why others reach out to try to support them.

“What we need to do is to better inform, even better care for our patients and their families, so they don’t feel this is what they need to do.” (VOA)