Undocumented dad speaks out about fears of deportation

Published: Feb. 16, 2018 at 7:55 AM EST
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Manuel “Manny” Bartsch calls the small town of Pandora, Ohio home. It’s where he grew up and where he now raises his family, but his future there is in limbo.

As the Trump administration continues to take on the issue of immigration, hundreds of thousands of young people face deportation.

The Senate Thursday failed to advance four proposals that addressed immigration reform, one of which was backed by the White House.

Many illegal immigrants were protected from deportation under a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, also commonly known as “Dreamers”. It’s estimated that there are more than 750,000 of them nationwide and a couple thousand here in Ohio.

With the hopes Congress comes to an agreement on immigration this week now completely out of reach, the fate of the Dreamers, and the deadline for Congress to act, is now murkier than ever.

The Trump administration announced last year it would end protections for DACA recipients on March 5th, but in recent days two separate federal court injunctions have effectively halted that process, instructing the Department of Justice to maintain the current DACA program as it was before the Sept. 5 announcement.

DACA allows people who came here illegally as young children to stay and obtain work permits. For Manny, that permit expires in November. “Once that expires, I could be deported at any moment.”

Manny and his wife Ashley have a one-year-old son Mason. "It’s just scary, it’s really scary,” Manny said. “The thought of having to leave him, my wife. I just couldn’t fathom the idea."

Manny is a German citizen, but moved to the United States when he was in elementary school. “I don’t know how to speak the language, I don’t know the culture,” Manny said. “Honestly, I don’t know what to do. It’s petrifying, it’s scary, it’s always on the back of my mind.”

He graduated from high school and college here in northwest Ohio. He says the DACA program has allowed him to start his own business.

Immigration concerns are nothing new for Manny. He made national news in 2005 as he battled deportation. He says it all started when he went to get his driver's license. He says he was cared for by his grandparents in Germany, and brought here by his step-grandfather who is American, but Manny was never legally adopted after his grandmother died.

Manny says he considers himself a proud American, "This is my home, this is my country, this is where I want to be.”

In an exclusive interview with 13abc, Manny explains his hopes for his uncertain future.

Hear his story Monday night at 11PM on 13abc.