For almost two weeks, papers across Ohio, including The Blade, have been closely following the case of Manuel Bartsch, an 18-year-old student from Putnam County who was arrested by federal immigration officials before Christmas.
I first learned of Mr. Bartsch's case on Dec. 23 when I received a phone call from his attorney. While I worked closely with Mr. Bartsch's attorney to help resolve this issue, I was unable to release the details of my involvement until recently.
When a constituent contacts my office, I am prohibited from sharing information regarding their case with members of the media because of Privacy Act concerns. It is also not my policy or intention to grandstand on any one person's plight.
On Dec. 29, as a result of the large public outcry of support, Mr. Bartsch signed a waiver allowing me to speak publicly about his case. Since I was first contacted on Dec. 23, my office has placed more than 20 phone calls on this case, including calls to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Cleveland and Washington, D.C., the Arlington Immigration Court, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Homeland Security.
In addition, my office has spoken with Mr. Bartsch's attorney more than a dozen times and has been in constant contact regarding this case.
This incident could have, and should have, been avoided had immigration authorities used a minimum amount of common sense and compassion.
When a constituent contacts my office for assistance, we do not have the authority to alter the decisions of an agency. However, I do urge officials that if a mistake has been made, it be corrected swiftly. As long as Manuel Bartsch's case continues, I will continue working on his behalf.
Member of Congress
Ohio 5th District
Although we are all glad to see that Manuel Bartsch will at least be getting a hearing now instead of deportation, I agree that it is a shame to witness the perpetuation of inflexible "black and white" thinking by the federal government and elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor.
This situation called for creative advocacy; someone willing to suggest and inquire about the potential for "wiggle room," also known as discretionary authority. Oftentimes, someone higher up in the chain of command has the authority to exercise discretion in dealing with unusual circumstances; thus, an inquiry could be fruitful.
It has been my past experience, as both an advocate and an investigator, that a suggestion of possible alternative action to address a unique problem can get the creative juices flowing and reveal solutions that still fall within the law.
Further, if the laws relating to Mr. Bartsch's plight do not allow adaptation for unusual circumstances that are not a threat to national security, the involvement and interest of our federal legislator in changing the laws appropriately is certainly warranted, and arguably expected.
As a resident of the 5th District, I am dismayed by the apparent lack of enthusiasm and advocacy by Congressman Gillmor for this young man.
This is an exceptional opportunity to be involved in the application and refinement of federal law right in our back yard. It also illustrates the importance of the duty voters have every two years to choose a representative who will work with due diligence on their behalf and people like Manuel Bartsch.
Editor's note: Robin Weirauch ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Gillmor for his congressional seat in 2004.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service bureaucracy has no remedy for Manuel Bartsch's immigration problem? Perhaps if he were a Canadian skater with Olympic potential, President Bush would sign into law a special provision that would allow him to also skip the five-year waiting period for citizenship.
In the upside-down world of our government, a young man who has lived the American dream for a decade has little standing with those who only live by "the rules." Meanwhile, a professional Olympian jumps to the head of the line because she and her partner could bring home the gold.
To the letter writer who said that liberal Democrats are a danger to the country, I say pull your head out of the sand and take a good look around.
The President says it is OK for him to wiretap without a warrant, which is against the Constitution. FISA was enacted so wiretaps could be attained legally. President Bush and the rest of his administration decided it wasn't necessary to follow the law of the land.
Remember, this is the same administration that couldn't get its act together when Katrina struck; it also hasn't done anything about securing the borders and stopping the illegal immigrants pouring into this country.
I am not ready to bow to this administration and give up my constitutional rights just so I have the illusion of feeling safe.
Get a history book and look up what happened to Germany when Hitler took over the country and took away the German citizens' civil liberties.
What would we do without The Blade? Where else would we find out that Tom Noe is keeping a "low profile" since the coin scandal came to light, as reported in an article on Dec. 27?
Imagine, someone accused of stealing millions of dollars laying low while preparing a legal defense. Shocking! Why, I would have expected him to be the grand marshal at the Christmas parade in downtown Toledo.
Who would have guessed that Mr. Noe would not want to talk to a Blade reporter who showed up at his front door? Details like that separate a news item from a story designed to simply beat a dead horse.
It was a nice touch to include the paparazzi-style photo of Mr. Noe at a gas station in the article. I wonder if he paid cash or credit? Did he clean his windshield while he was there? Is it true that he has shopped at Wal-Mart? We'll have to wait for the next story to find out.
This is just the kind of reporting we have come to expect from The Blade. What an indispensable jewel in Toledo's crown.
Terrace View North
A Dec. 29 editorial, "The SAT in one sitting," misstates the proposed changes to the SAT.
The proposed changes, outlined in a letter to the College Board and signed by more than 250 college admission counselors, would give students the option to take the SAT in sections rather than being required to take it all in one sitting and to take all sections at a retest.
If the changes are adopted, students could take the whole test on the first sitting and would not have to retake the entire test if they are happy with their scores on one or two sections. They would only use up one Saturday morning if they like all three scores.
Currently, most students take the SAT two or more times and they have to take the whole test each time. With NCLB-mandated tests, state-mandated tests, college admission tests, classroom-based subject tests, etc., K-12 students take plenty of tests.
Why require them to spend time and money to take ones that are not necessary?
BRADFORD R. MacGOWAN
Editor's note: Mr. McGowan is past president of the New England Association for College Admission Counseling.
As an Irish American, I said Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish fellow citizens and thanks for all that they have given and how much they have enriched our lives in America. Their contributions in the arts, science, education, military, and government are remarkable beyond their numbers. Their contributions have had a profound influence on this great nation. My only wish is that we had 10 times their numbers.