A Transylvania University senior who was targeted by a fellow student because of her immigration status is headed to Washington this week to advocate for a new immigration law.
Paola Garcia has legal immigration status under an Obama-era executive order that allows the children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States for school and work. Last month, President Donald Trump announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would end in six months if Congress doesn’t take action on the issue.
A fellow student, Taylor Ragg, posted Garcia’s picture on Facebook, telling people to report her for being an illegal immigrant. In response, Garcia posted a tearful six-minute video on YouTube last month asking for the public’s support. Ragg is no longer enrolled at Transy.
Now, Garcia is one of 100 “dreamers,” as DACA recipients are sometimes called, who will travel to Washington to push for legislation to replace the expiring policy. The event is being sponsored by FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group founded by the technology industry.
“I’m super excited,” Garcia said. “We’re trying to put a human face on DACA recipients and tell our stories about how DACA has helped us and why we need a Dream Act now.”
DACA recipients must reapply every two years; Oct. 5 is the last deadline.
Garcia said she hopes to meet with several members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, contacted her shortly after the Transy incident. A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, said his office is working to schedule a meeting with Garcia and that Barr looks forward to meeting her.
Transy’s Student Activities Board will celebrate the national College and University Day of Action on Oct. 4, when campuses will hold activities to show support for immigrants.