A Heidelberg University graduate who had been jailed and faced the threat of deportation after learning he didn't have a Social Security number called a new federal policy put in place Friday "a dream come true."
The policy seeks to prioritize immigration enforcement toward people who are a threat to public safety, according to the White House's website. Manuel Bartsch, who received a diploma for completing a bachelor's degree in political science last month, saw rumors of the policy on Facebook and emailed his attorney, who confirmed it was true.
He said receiving confirmation was surreal, and the hair on his arms stood up. It was overwhelming because something had been done, he said.
According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security's website, "Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or entered into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal."
Bartsch came to the United States from Germany with his stepgrandfather when he was in fourth grade but didn't realize his illegal status until he applied to take the ACT as a student at Pandora-Gilboa High School. He didn't have a Social Security number and spent time in jail.
Prior to his graduation from Heidelberg, he said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement no longer was trying to deport him, and he had no plans to return to Germany.
Bartsch, who is living in Tiffin, said the policy allows him to get a work permit and start his career. He said his goal is to work as a staff member for a congressman at the state or national level. If that goal doesn't work out, he said he would like to work for a non-governmental organization with a concentration in immigration.
He also is being featured in Time's coverage about undocumented immigrants, and his photo is on the cover of the June 25 issue. He visited New York City for the photo shoot about a week after commencement.
Bartsch said he met 35 other people in the same situation as him, and meeting them motivated him and made him want to get involved in advocating for the Dream Act.
"It was a great time (in New York City). ... It was a wonderful experience," he said.