Government

Adi’s Attorney Blasts Trump Administration, ICE

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Businessman Amer Adi Othman is being deported by an administration that trades in humiliation and cruelty, his lawyer said.

Othman, known locally as Al Adi, was taken into custody Tuesday morning by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service.

Adi, who owns Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli, went to ICE’s office in Brooklyn Heights for what immigration attorney David Leopold characterized as a “routine meeting.”

On Jan. 4, ICE had “unilaterally canceled” Adi’s deportation set for Jan. 7 — mistakenly reported as a stay, the Cleveland attorney said — and informed them to check in with the office.

“They were reviewing the case,” Leopold said. The worst-case scenario they envisioned was that Adi would be given a new departure date. What happened Tuesday morning — Adi taken into custody for eventual deportation — was “the last thing I expected,” he said.

Adi “will remain in ICE custody pending removal from the United States,” ICE said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. The agency said Adi’s case had “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 Adi lacked a legal basis to remain in the United States.

Adi is in jail in Geauga County awaiting deportation. “The fact that they threw him in jail, in with people charged with serious crimes is beyond the pale,” Leopold said.

Leopold was unsparing in his criticism of President Donald Trump and his administration.

“We’re dealing with an administration that trades in cruelty, trades in humiliation and plays to its base by dehumanizing people like Al Adi,” the attorney said. “This is a very shameful day for the entire country.”

He also called Trump a “racist president,” pointing to recent reports that the president, in an immigration discussion, had repeatedly used a vulgarism to refer to Haiti and African nations.

“It’s clear through cases like this and through the mass deportations going on that his racism, his contempt for people of color and for Muslims is being ruthlessly translated by [White House adviser] Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions, attorney general, and others into a mean-spirited policy designed to make the country white,” Leopold said.

ICE officials gave no indication when Adi might be deported, Leopold said. Not only is detaining Adi and going through the process of a formal deportation costing the federal government resources, but he would have been out of the country sooner had they permitted him to go voluntarily as he had planned.

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said late Tuesday that the congressman’s office is “looking into any and all options left on the table,” although a spokeswoman could not offer specifics. Ryan, D-13 Ohio, had been with Adi and his wife, Fidaa Musleh, at the ICE offices, along with Tracey Winbush, vice chairwoman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, and other supporters yesterday morning.

“Treating an individual with no criminal record who poses zero flight risk like an animal flies in the face of the American values Immigration and Customs Enforcement is supposedly defending,” Ryan said in a statement. The Trump administration didn’t even give Adi the chance to say goodbye to his wife and four daughters, he added.

“Every American should be angered by what I witnessed today and what individuals are experiencing every day under the Trump administration,” he said. “This fight is not over.”

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the office doesn’t comment on specific cases because of privacy concerns but “does everything it can to assist any Ohioan who reaches out to our office for help with a federal agency.” The senator maintains that “tearing apart families who are working and paying taxes is not the way to fix our broken immigration system.”

Staff for U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio also is aware of Tuesday’s events and continues to be in touch with ICE regarding the case, a spokeswoman said.

Leopold said he and his client are considering all legal options and noted that Adi has “steadfastly abided by the law,” showing up wearing an ankle bracelet yesterday morning after years of reporting without one.

Adi had paid for his own ticket out of the country and was prepared to leave Jan. 7, Leopold said, and canceled that ticket when his deportation was canceled.

“Now they lock him up because they don’t think he’s going to leave,” Leopold said. He asked ICE officials what changed that made them think Adi was a flight risk or a threat to the community. “Nobody gave me any justification whatsoever,” he said, “not even off the record.”

Ryan called Adi’s arrest a “shameful failure of justice” and said what he witnessed made him sad for the country.

Leopold said he has seen “some bad stuff” as an immigration lawyer, but “never seen them [immigration officials] humiliate a man this way.”

Pictured at top: Al Adi was relieved two weeks ago when his deportation was stayed. Today he’s incarcerated in the Geauga County jail.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.