LATINO VOICES

Undocumented Valedictorian Takes Down Trump In Epic Speech

"America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice."

A Yale University-bound woman has just become the second high school valedictorian in Texas to reveal that she's an undocumented immigrant.

Larissa Martinez, who will go to Yale on a full ride this fall, chose her graduation speech at McKinney Boyd High School in Dallas to make her bold statement.

"I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows," she said, to cheers from the crowd.

Her speech followed a similarly brave statement from Mayte Lara Ibarra of Austin, Texas, last week. Lara became a viral sensation after tweeting photos from her own high school graduation, touting her high GPA, her full ride to University of Texas Austin — and the fact that she is undocumented.

Martinez moved to Texas on a tourist visa in 2010 with her mother, who was trying to escape an alcoholic and abusive husband.

"We just flew over here with luggage and a lot of dreams," she told WFAA on Wednesday. 

Martinez said she's been waiting seven years for her citizenship application to be processed.

"The most important part of the debate and the part most often overlooked is the fact that immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, are people too," Martinez said. "People with dreams, aspirations, hopes and loved ones. People like me."

And referencing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s extreme immigration policies, she told the crowd last Friday that "America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice."

Some did not react particularly kindly to Martinez's address:

But many others rushed to her defense, offering supportive words and even equating her to Ibarra, whose name #MayteLara was trending earlier this week on Facebook and Twitter:

"When these students walk into our classroom, we have to love and teach them like any other student," Martinez's social studies teacher Scott Martin told The Dallas Morning News. "When I see students from not much do so much, it blows me away.”

Martinez received a scholarship to attend Yale through QuestBridge, a "national non-profit program that links bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges." 

“I feel like it will be more of a respectful environment," she said about Yale.

The university said in a statement to The Huffington Post that "all students who apply to the college, whether they are U.S. citizens or international students, are eligible for its need-based financial aid."

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

HuffPost

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