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- 05-06-2012, 06:00 PM #1
German almost deported in 2005 still faces uncertain future after college in Ohio
German man who was almost deported in 2005 still faces uncertain future after college in Ohio
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
First Posted: May 06, 2012 - 3:40 pm
Last Updated: May 06, 2012 - 3:42 pm
TIFFIN, Ohio — A German man who was brought to the United States as a child and then threatened with deportation just before his high school graduation is about to finish college.
Yet, Manuel Bartsch does not have a Social Security number or a driver's license and still faces an uncertain future.
Bartsch's life was turned upside down when he was arrested in December 2005 and jailed for more than two weeks after immigration officials discovered that the step-grandfather who brought Bartsch to the United States eight years earlier never completed paperwork to make his stay legal.
The case sparked a groundswell of support from friends and neighbors in the small northwest Ohio community of Pandora, where Bartsch attended high school, and eventually garnered attention far beyond Ohio. Deportation hearings were halted when a judge intervened.
Bartsch, 24, will graduate May 13 from Heidelberg University with a bachelor's degree in political science.
He told The (Toledo) Blade (Heidelberg grad seeks a normal life in U.S. - Toledo Blade ) that he isn't sure what's next.
"I would love to contribute to this country, give back to it," he said. "I just don't understand why they would educate people in my situation and deport them back and let other countries reap the benefits of the education system here. That's just the biggest thing that startles me about it all."
David Leopold, a Cleveland immigration attorney who has helped Bartsch since he was first jailed, said the government has dropped its case against him. But he remains in a legal limbo unless and until Congress changes the law to enable people like Bartsch to apply for citizenship.
"The good news is they're not pursuing him in terms of removing him," Leopold told the newspaper. "The bad news is there's no status. He's not in a position to put himself on a pathway to compliance, which he really wants to do."
Bartsch traveled from Germany to Ohio in 1997 on a 90-day visa with a U.S. citizen, Toby Deal, who took custody of Bartsch in Germany when Bartsch's grandmother died. Deal never adopted him nor processed his immigration papers in the U.S.
Heidelberg professor David Hogan said Bartsch is one of the best students he's taught "in terms of brilliance, work ethic, personal qualities."
"He's very charismatic. He has everything going for him," Hogan said. "He is the kind of person we want in this country. He's the kind of person any country would want."
Bartsch was able to attend Heidelberg College on a scholarship offered by school officials who heard about his predicament. Donors paid for his books and housing.
He doesn't know who gave him that chance.
"Whoever did, I thank them with all my heart," he said. "I love this country through and through, the opportunities it has given me. Just to have the opportunity one day just to give back and be a citizen. That would be the most meaningful thing in the world to me."
Information from: The Blade, Home - Toledo Blade
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