YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A Youngstown business owner who never received American citizenship after illegally entering the U.S. from Jordan in 1979 is now facing deportation.
Known by locals as “Al,” Amer Adi Othman owns the Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli on W. Federal Street.
“We were all dreamers. We came to this country to build our lives, feel the freedom and do what we have to do, and we did,” Al told the patrons of his hookah bar on Tuesday, revealing the ankle bracelet from Immigration and Customs Enforcement tracking his every move.
He recalled how he moved to San Diego, married his first wife and received a Green Card. But the two divorced after nearly three years. He then moved to Youngstown and married his wife of 29 years, Fidaa Musleh, a naturalized citizen.
Adi and his wife left the country for three years and when they returned, his green card was confiscated on a claim that his first marriage was fraudulent, according to a report from WKBN. In the early 1990s, his second wife applied for Adi to receive a new green card, and the application was denied.
As he fought against his citizenship denial, Adi successfully built several businesses and raised four daughters.
“Even though my ex-wife had filed an affidavit of 14 pages, saying that we were married, nobody listened and it went all the way down to the point I’m at right now,” he said, noting that as a DACA “Dreamer,” he is one of “almost 800,000 people in the United States that are in this same situation.”
Congressman Tim Ryan previously introduced legislation to prevent Adi’s deportation and grant him legal status. Ryan released the following statement:
“The case of Amer Othman is a tragic illustration of the abject failure of our immigration system and why it must be fixed. Amer has lived in this country since the age of 19, is happily married with four children, and is a successful local business owner. He is contributing mightily to Youngstown and our country. He does not deserve to be deported, and I am proud to have introduced a bill that, for a time, prevented his deportation. It was a long-standing policy at the Department of Homeland Security not to deport people who are the subject of introduced legislation. The Trump Administration’s decision to ignore this policy is what led to Amer’s deportation order. Amer’s wife, his children, and the entire community of people who care about him deserve better. This a disgrace and only worsens our already broken immigration system.”
So far, that bill has not been passed.
“When President Trump took office, he changed a lot of those laws,” Adi said. “One of those is if you’re under a private bill, you cannot be protected from deportation. So you can be deported at the same time the bill is pending.”
Adi and his wife leave for Jordan on Sunday, but he says he will not give up his fight to return home to Youngstown.
His four daughters will operate the family’s business while he’s gone.
“I invested my money, I invested my work, me and my family built this from scratch,” he stated, adding, “This is my town, my downtown. I am from here and I hope I will be back again, here.”
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