Recent high school grad facing deportation following traffic stop

Bernard Pastor (Source: Facebook)
Bernard Pastor (Source: Facebook)

READING, OH (FOX19) – A 2010 Reading High School graduate is facing deportation after an arrest last week for driving without a license.

Bernard Pastor, 18, is sitting in Morrow County Jail in Mt. Gilead, Ohio under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) control.

Pastor's lawyer, Firooz Namei, says Pastor and his family came to America from Guatemala when he was three for religious asylum but was denied in 2001. His family has been in the appeal process since. Namei says he has not been in contact with the family because they are in hiding for fear of also being taken into ICE custody and possibly deported.

"The only way he can remain here is if the Department of Homeland Security agrees to reopen their case," says Namei.

The Reading community is in shock over the arrest and possible deportation of Pastor. Friends have created a Facebook page, "Free Bernard Pastor" and are organizing multiple events to raise awareness about his case.

The school superintendent, Scott Inskeepe, says Pastor was a 4.0 student, played soccer and never caused any trouble.

"Reading is a very close tight knit community and he's a nice young man, he's graduated from our high school and I feel like at this point it's a situation where he is an adult and unfortunately the laws in our country are going to apply to him, " says Inskeepe.

The potential removal of Pastor was delayed Tuesday night after local politicians urged the government to reconsider his case.

On Tuesday, friends of Pastor gathered to share stories about Bernard and strategies on ways to keep Bernard in Cincinnati.

Congressman Steve Driehaus, who was unseated by Republican Steve Chabot in the midterms, is spending his last two months in office working on Pastor's case and pushing passage of the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act would allow a six year period for young undocumented immigrants to earn a permanent visa and work toward a U.S. citizenship. Driehaus says this legislation would protect people like Pastor who pose no threat to the country.

"I don't know whose interest is being served here, certainly not the interest of the family, certainly not the interest of the U.S, he's no threat, just the opposite, he's a productive young man," says Driehaus.

Those opposed to the DREAM Act says it would attract more illegal immigrants to the U.S. and reward them for being undocumented.

Bernard Pastor will remain in Morrow County Jail in Central Ohio until the Department of Homeland Security determines if he will or will not remain in the country.

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