Government

Adi Could See Release Today, Ryan Says

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Amer Adi Othman was “absolutely humbled” upon hearing that action by a subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives should see him released from a Geauga County jail today, his lawyer says.

Around 5:30 p.m., the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security voted to request that the Department of Homeland Security review Othman’s immigration case, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said last night.

“That should lead to him not getting deported and hopefully soon getting out of jail,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, told reporters on a conference call about an hour after the vote.

Ryan said he would learn more about how things will proceed today, but understood that last night’s action should mean a six-month stay to provide Homeland Security time to investigate Adi’s case. 

“We’re certainly going to ask for an immediate release,” Ryan said.

Othman, locally known as Al Adi, operates the Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli. He was taken into custody Tuesday when he reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices near Cleveland for what he believed to be a meeting regarding his case.   

Ryan did not know why ICE arrested Adi Tuesday, but said he has heard similar incidents are happening across the country. Adi and his wife, Fidaa Musleh, had planned to leave the country Jan. 7 but they were informed a few days before that his deportation had been cancelled.

“The Trump administration basically put guys like Amer on a par with violent criminals, which to me doesn’t make any sense at all,” Ryan said. The case underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform, he added.

The focus of the department’s limited resources should be on getting felons and violent criminals out of the country, the congressman continued.

“It’s high time that we got some decency back in our immigration system,” Adi’s immigration attorney, David Leopold, said last night during a phone interview after meeting with his client.

Adi is “just beyond humbled” by the fact that Democrats and Republicans came together in Washington to halt his deportation, he said.

“It’s a powerful statement,” he remarked.

The subcommittee vote calls on Homeland Security to review Adi’s case and report back to the House subcommittee. The subcommittee would then use the report to decide whether to proceed with a vote on legislation Ryan introduced that would grant Adi permanent legal status.

Adi has lived in the United States since 1979. He was briefly married then divorced, and has been married to his current wife, Fidaa Musleh, for 29 years. The first marriage was deemed fraudulent after an administrative review, based upon an affidavit, since recanted, by his first wife.

The case has not been heard by an immigration judge, Ryan said. “Let him have his day in court,” he said.       

When he returned to Washington this week, Ryan said he “started grabbing people to talk to” about Adi’s situation. The congressman said he has been working on Adi’s case since 2013 but only spoke publicly about it recently.

“I couldn’t get the image out of my head him sitting in jail with a bunch of common criminals,” he said.

Adi and his family – he and his wife have four daughters – “helped me make the case because he’s a good guy,” Ryan said.

Adi “obviously” is happy and looking forward to being reunited with his family, although he understands he is “not out of the woods yet,” Leopold said. “There’s a lot of work to do, but clearly this is a step in the right direction.”

The attorney applauded Ryan for his “dogged determination” to protect his constituents and community. “Frankly, I’ve never seen a representative go to bat for a constituent like that. It’s amazing.”

After Adi was taken into custody Tuesday, his wife, Fidaa Musleh, wasn’t sure if her husband would be placed on a plane for deportation within hours, Ryan said. Their last communication was by telephone and through a glass window, and she and their daughters never had the opportunity for a proper goodbye.

“I just didn’t want it to end that way,” Ryan said.

Pictured at top: Al Adi was relieved two weeks ago when his deportation was stayed. Tuesday he was incarcerated in the Geauga County jail. Today he is expected to be released.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.