Education

Student who targeted classmate for deportation no longer enrolled at Transylvania

A DACA student's plea for help after classmate targets her for deportation

Transylvania University student Paola Garcia posted the plea for help on YouTube after the school declined to punish a classmate who urged people on Facebook to report her to immigration officials. Garcia is in the U.S. legally under the Deferred
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Transylvania University student Paola Garcia posted the plea for help on YouTube after the school declined to punish a classmate who urged people on Facebook to report her to immigration officials. Garcia is in the U.S. legally under the Deferred

A Transylvania University student who targeted one of his classmates for deportation is no longer enrolled at the school, officials said Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Michele Sparks said senior Taylor Ragg left campus following a grievance process performed by school administrators. Citing federal privacy laws, Sparks said she could not say whether Ragg had been expelled or left voluntarily.

Ragg, a Harlan resident, posted a picture of fellow senior Paola Garcia on Facebook in August, saying “everyone go report this illegal at my school bragging about breaking the law.”

GarciaSnip
This screen shot shows a photo of a post on Facebook by Transylvania Student Taylor Ragg in which he urges people to report fellow student Paola Garcia to immigration officials. Stamper, John - Lexington Screen shot

Garcia is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows children brought to this country without documentation to stay in the United States for school and work. On Sunday, Garcia posted a tearful video asking for help because she said Transy had not taken action against Ragg for allegedly violating the school’s anti-discrimination policy.

“Racists are emboldened today, and he’s inciting them to harass me and report me,” Garcia said in the video.

On Wednesday, Garcia said she was relieved.

“I don’t have to walk across the (graduation) stage with him, but I also feel that it isn’t over yet,” she said, citing fears of retaliation.

Transy, which came under intense pressure from the public after Garcia said the school had refused to help her, couldn’t comment specifically about the dispute between Garcia and Ragg until Wednesday because of due process requirements, Sparks said.

“The story got ahead of us,” she said. “We need to go through the policy as a university before any decision can be made.”

Ragg’s only response to a request for comment Tuesday was to say the Herald-Leader is “fake news.” He has since taken down his Facebook page.

He apparently spoke with a website called The Narrative Times, which published excerpts of emails to him from Carey’s office requesting a conversation with him about the impact of social media. The Narrative Times wrote a story sympathetic to Ragg with the headline: “ILLEGAL ALIEN Boast’s About Being Here ILLEGAL and Suddenly Get’s A REALITY CHECK!”

Garcia said she received more harassing comments Tuesday evening on Facebook after a story published by the Herald-Leader was picked up by local and national television news outlets.

She said Transy President Seamus Carey and Holly Sheilley, vice president for enrollment and student life, expressed support for her and frustration that the case took time to resolve.

Garcia, who was brought to the U.S. by her parents at the age of 2, said she was thankful for many supportive comments from those associated with the small liberal arts school near downtown Lexington, including numerous people who wrote statements on Transy’s Facebook page calling for Ragg’s expulsion.

Debate over the DACA program has become heated after President Donald Trump announced last week that the Obama-era policy would end in six months unless Congress adopts it as law.

Carey is one of six Kentucky university presidents who have signed a national letter of support for the DACA program.

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