CLEVELAND - The family of a Youngstown businessman served food to the homeless while he's being held in ICE custody and is on a hunger strike.
Amer "Al" Adi Othman, 57, came to the U.S. from Jordan when he was 19 and was married to an American. The marriage ended, and years later U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claimed that first marriage was fraudulent and grounds for deportation.
“It's been devastating, devastating,” said his wife of 30 years, Fidaa Musleh. “It's breaking a family up. It's tearing our family apart.”
Musleh and one of their four daughters, Lina Adi, served food at St. Herman House in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood Friday night, as they await Adi Othman’s deportation.
“It's to give back to the community and all of the people who have supported us in our time of need,” Adi said.
Adi Othman owns Downtown Circle, a Youngstown grocery store, deli and hookah bar. Musleh said her husband has a valid work permit and pays taxes, but after he exhausted all efforts to try to become a legal permanent resident, they bought tickets to return to Jordan in early January.
However, ICE claimed Adi Othman would receive a stay, she said, so they stayed. ICE then took him into custody during a check-in last week.
“We were leaving. Why would you turn around and do this? This is going to cost taxpayers so much money right now. Two weeks in jail, then they have to escort him back home. We were going,” Musleh said. “And to be ambushed and deceived and tricked the way they did doesn't make any sense.”
ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said the agency has chosen not to grant a stay of removal in the case after comprehensive review, including consideration of a Congressional request for an investigative report.
"The courts have uniformly held that Mr. Othman does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” Walls said in a statement. “Mr. Othman will remain in ICE custody pending removal.”
Adi Othman’s family said they do not understand why he was taken into custody when he was willing to leave on his own, and at this point, they simply want him to get to Jordan.
“We're going to keep fighting,” Musleh said. “And not only are we fighting for him, we're fighting because there's so many other people that don't have voices that don't have community support like my husband.”