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ICE Refuses U.S. House Committee Request for Deportation Stay, Adi's Family Says Goodbye

Fidaa Musleh and Lina Adi
WKSU public radio

Youngstown businessman Amer Adi Othman lost his final bid to remain in the country yesterday (Thursday) when immigration officials turned down a special request from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. His family went to say goodbye at the private prison where he’s been held and emerged bewildered and angry. 

Adi’s family and his lawyer said they got word the same time the media did: While Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would re-review his case, he would be deported to Jordan well before that review is done. Outside the prison, sobbing, one of his four daughters, Lina, claimed the case has been one cruelty after another. The biggest, she says, is why ICE gave her parents false hope when it told them to call off his self-deportation on Jan. 7, and then arrested Adi nine days later.

“We were all mentally prepared for him to be gone and then you tell him to wait and stay so you can put him in jail? For what, and you don’t want to answer why or for what when he was leaving? Because you have no answers, you have no answers.” 

Fidaa Musleh said she was shocked that her husband wasn’t allowed to hold his daughters during their roughly hour-long meeting at the Youngstown prison.

'So now that he's getting deported, we need all you haters who call yourselves true Americans to step up to the plate and provide jobs to people. And while you're at it, you can feed the hungry downtown.'

“We thought we were going to sit with him like all the rest of the prisoners. They have him in a cage and they put us on a phone in front of a glass to talk to him.” 

Adi has been on a hunger strike since his arrest on Jan. 16. His wife says he’s lost nearly 20 pounds. ICE maintains he did eat Wednesday afternoon.

The deportation comes over the objections of Congressman Tim Ryan, Mayor Tito Brown and hundreds of others who say Adi has helped to rejuvenate Youngstown.

His brother-in-law, Ghassan Musleh, acknowledges some are cheering the deportation of Adi and others.

He wrote a response on his Facebook page:

"That man has done nothing but create jobs in the community; he pays his taxes, feeds a lot of the homeless, hungry people in downtown Youngstown. So now that he’s getting deported, we need all you haters who call yourselves true Americans to step up to the plate and provide jobs to people. And while you’re at it, you can feed the hungry downtown."

ICE says it does not provide details on when and how someone is deported until they’re out of the country. They also say Adi’s case – based on the claim that first marriage in 1980 was a sham – got a full review by the immigration and court system.

Here is the statement from ICE on its decision:

After conducting a comprehensive review of Mr. Othman’s case, including careful consideration of the Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s request for an investigative report, ICE has chosen not to grant a stay of removal in his case.

Over the last decade, Mr. Othman’s immigration case has undergone exhaustive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation’s courts, including before the immigration courts, federal appeals courts and U.S. district court. In each review, the courts have uniformly held that Mr. Othman does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S. As such, Mr. Othman will remain in ICE custody pending removal from the United States. Due to operational security concerns, ICE does not confirm specific removal arrangements prior to an individual’s successful repatriation.

While ICE acknowledges Congress’s authority to pass legislation providing immigration benefits to non-citizens, alien beneficiaries need not be present in the United States for a private immigration relief bill to be introduced, considered, and/or enacted.  An alien who is granted relief through the enactment of a private immigration bill can lawfully travel back to the United States.

As ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.