In a surprise reversal, U.S. immigration officials took a Youngstown businessman into custody today, less than two weeks after granting him a temporary stay. The arrest was condemned by both a Northeast Ohio congressman and a prominent supporter of President Trump.
Fifty-seven-year-old Amer Adi Othman – known by most in the Youngstown community as Al Adi – was taken into custody without explanation at what he and his family had expected would be a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Cleveland.
Rep. Tim Ryan, who accompanied Adi to the hearing, said the businessman had been preparing to leave the country two weeks ago.
“He had flights, he had his passport, he had an itinerary, all of which he submitted to the immigration service,” Ryan said. “And he would leave. If they said he couldn’t stay and he had to go, he would go. But instead, they make a spectacle out of it.”
Adi and his second wife, Fidaa, have four daughters. He owns Downtown Circle Convenience store and is seen as a force for downtown Youngstown development.
Ryan said there's no justification for the arrest or for the U.S. shouldering the cost of forced deportation in this case. And Ryan's attorney, David Leopold, says ICE refused to let Adi's wife pay for a new plane ticket so he could leave the country, with her, voluntarily.
Leopold says he's agreed and disagreed with immigration decisions over the years, but this one was unprecedented.
“I may not have agreed with what a judge said or what an ICE agent decided, or what an immigration judge found. But I always understood it,” Leopold said. “Today I walked out of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Office in Cleveland not only baffled, but terrified for our country.”
Also accompanying Adi was Mahoning County Republican Party vice chair Tracey Winbush, a Trump supporter, who tweeted that she was appalled at Adi’s treatment.
“If this is how we treat people May God have mercy on our Souls,” she said.
I am all for appaled at what I just saw here at the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) America should be better than this. My God I thought we were better than this.
— Tracey Winbush (@traceywinbush) January 16, 2018
ICE said in a statement that Adi’s case had undergone “exhaustive judicial review.”
The underlying question of Adi’s deportation is whether his first marriage nearly 40 years ago was a sham he used to get a green card. Leopold insists the only issue reviewed was a technical one, not the body of evidence, which includes a second affidavit from Adi's first wife saying she was coerced into declaring the marriage had been a sham.
Leopold says his wife, a U.S. citizen, will leave the country with him.