The case of a Youngstown businessman took another dramatic turn on Thursday. As Amer Othman Adi sat in the Geauga County Jail, on a hunger strike and awaiting deportation, lawmakers pushed to grant him a six-month stay while his case goes under further review.
Adi, the 57-year-old owner of the Downtown Circle Convenience store, was suddenly taken into custody by immigration officials during a routine check-in on Tuesday, less than two weeks after being granted a temporary stay.
Adi has been fighting deportation for decades over claims his first marriage was a sham. The plan to deport him drew protests from the Youngstown community and both Democratic and Republican politicians.
Rep. Tim Ryan pushed a special bill in the House that would ask federal immigration officials to release Adi from jail and grant him a stay of deportation. On Thursday night, the House Judiciary subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security approved Ryan’s bill, requesting from the Department of Homeland Security a further review of Adi’s case and a six-month stay of deportation.
Ryan celebrated the night’s action, but called for systemic change.
“Amer and his family helped me make the case because he’s such a good guy and has lived such a noble life,” Ryan says. “So it made it easier for me to make the case. But this speaks to the fact of why you need a comprehensive system that takes into account all people who are in a similar situation such as Amer and his family.”
Adi had been planning to self-deport to Jordan on Jan. 7, but immigration officials announced they’d reconsider his case before apparently changing their minds. Ryan criticized immigration officials for making a “spectacle” out of Adi’s case.
Fidaa Musleh, Adi’s wife, said she “felt as if it was some type of conspiracy.”
“Why would you let this man buy a ticket, have his bags ready to go, sell his home… and then you trick him into going back thinking there is something positive that ICE had to say to him,” Musleh told WKSU on Thursday.
To protest his treatment, Adi staged a hunger strike at the jail. Musleh said she thought the intention was to ensure he wouldn’t be detained for months.
“I have to stay strong,” Musleh said. “I have a business in downtown Youngstown. I can’t stop. I have to keep going for him, for the girls.’”
Adi is expected to be released on Friday.