It s been 10 years since Manuel Bartsch s step-grandfather brought him to the United States as a 10-year-old German immigrant.
It s been nearly two years since Mr. Bartsch was jailed, awaiting deportation for unknowingly violating a 90-day-visa when he was still a child.
Yesterday, it was decided that it will be at least two more years before he has to worry again about being deported.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted Mr. Bartsch a stay of deportation until March 15, 2009, after a House subcommittee considered a private relief bill to grant legal permanent resident status to the young man.
This is awesome, Mr. Bartsch said in a telephone interview seconds after receiving the news that his deportation has been stayed. I can go to school now, so this is really better than I expected. I ve been waiting for a year and a half now for this.
The bill, introduced in January by U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor (R., Tiffin) was not passed, but was moved to the next step in the review process.
The House subcommittee voted to request a report from the federal agency on Mr. Bartsch, and the bill then will be considered by the House Judiciary Committee. The stay of deportation was granted out of custom and courtesy, said Brad Mascho, Mr. Gillmor s spokesman.
It s kind of a gentleman s agreement between the immigration authorities and Congress, he said. They don t want to deport someone if they have a chance of getting a private relief bill passed.
The amount of time that deportation is stayed fluctuates from case to case, he said, but Mr. Bartsch was granted the longest stay possible.
Two other private relief bills for young people were considered in the House subcommittee yesterday, each receiving the same March, 2009, date.
Mr. Bartsch will now be able to remain in the country long enough to attend college, his attorney, Dave Leopold said.
We re just thrilled that he s not under immediate threat of removal, thrilled that he can go to college, Mr. Leopold said.
Mr. Bartsch was granted a full scholarship to Heidelberg College in Tiffin, and has received donations to help pay for his textbooks as well as room and board. He will begin classes Aug. 27, majoring in business management.
But his future ultimately remains uncertain as he awaits the House subcommittee s final decision on Mr. Gillmor s private relief bill.
The next step for Mr. Bartsch is to wait while immigration puts together a full report on him, including any information regarding the reason he was deportable.
Mr. Mascho said the chances of a private relief bill getting passed are slim.
There are 64 private relief bills pending in Congress and only three were taken up in the House subcommittee yesterday. In the last 12 years, Congress has passed less than 8 percent of the proposed bills.
These bills are very rare, he said. Manuel understands this and he knows that what we re trying to do is give him extra time to hopefully try to work with immigration authorities.
Mr. Bartsch, 19, said he already has had a rocky road with immigration officials and is content with simply receiving the stay of deportation.
He was brought to Putnam County from his native Germany in 1997 by his step-grandfather who never completed paperwork to obtain legal status for him.
He was jailed and nearly deported in December, 2005, after meeting with immigration officials in Cleveland to try to sort out his status.
Contact Maggie Reid at:email@example.com or419-724-6050.