Teenage Undocumented Immigrant Causes Twitter Firestorm

Published June 10, 2016
Updated January 18, 2018

Mayte Lara Ibarra recently graduated from Crockett High School in Austin, Texas with a 4.5 GPA and a full scholarship to University of Texas. After giving the valedictorian speech at her graduation ceremony, on June 3 Ibarra decided to share her experience — and some personal information — on Twitter:

The tweet — later shared by national news outlets — caused an uproar, with people calling Ibarra a criminal, and tweeting that they had reported her to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

Ibarra became anxious about all the attention both good and bad, telling friends that “it’s kinda scary and [I] want it to stop.”

On June 8, Ibarra became so overwhelmed that she backtracked, telling local news station KVUE that the situation was a “misunderstanding” and she is not an undocumented immigrant after all.

But in an interview with the Statesman on June 9, she came clean, telling the newspaper that she came to Texas from Mexico illegally when she was around two years old.

“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 said.

Elisabeth Sherman
Elisabeth Sherman is a writer living in Jersey City, New Jersey.