About 100 people gathered in downtown Youngstown Monday night to write two kinds of letters, letters to Amer Adi Othman to let him know he’s missed, and letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to plea for his release.
Despite intervention from Congress, Adi remains in a federal prison about three miles from his downtown grocery store and hookah bar. That’s where his wife, daughters, friends, customers and other supporters gathered to argue in the letters they wrote what hundreds of protesters had argued in the streets over the weekend: that ICE cannot justify holding him.
Adi and his wife had sold their home and purchased one-way tickets to Jordan when ICE said two weeks ago it would re-review the case. Instead, he was arrested last Tuesday at what was to have been an ICE check-in.
One of his four daughters, Lina Adi, said her father had no inkling what was coming and has received no explanation since.
“If you can’t explain why, then you shouldn’t be doing it If you have no reasoning behind it, then you should probably just let him go," Lina Adi said. "Or let him go back home. He was on his way. There was no point to this, not reason to it.”
At the urging of Congressman Tim Ryan, a House subcommittee last week added its voice by asking the Department of Homeland Security to review the case. The family had expected Adi’s release Friday, but instead he was transferred from a county jail to the federal prison.
Adi is on the second week of a hunger strike.
Julie Aromatorio grew up with Adi’s oldest daughter and says he was like a father.
“As we got older and we took on pet projects and played sports, he was always the first person in the stands cheering us on," Aromatorio said. "So, we’re going to be his voice now when he supported us for so long.”
ICE maintains Adi’s first marriage nearly 40 years ago was a sham to allow him to get a green card. Adi denies that.