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Adi's deportation stayed; staying in US for now

Thursday, January 4, 2018

By GRAIG GRAZIOSI

ggraziosi@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

UPDATE 2, 3:37 p.m.: In a last-minute development, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, announced today that after working with Al Adi’s attorney, David Leopold, and the House judiciary committee, a decision was reached to grant Adi a stay of deportation.

Al Adi is the owner of Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli and Circle Hookah and Bar in downtown Youngstown and faces deportation after living in the country for nearly four decades.

Adi said the deportation would not take place on Sunday, and that he will know more details after checking in with immigration officials later this week.

He said he was able to stay thanks to the support of the community and the work of Ryan, as well as his lawyer and his family. he said he is "overwhelmed by the support."

“I am pleased to announce that our friend Amer’s deportation has been postponed. We will continue to fight for Amer to stay in Youngstown – his home. Today is a big day,” said Ryan.

Ike Omran, a longtime friend of Adi's and a business owner of several area gas stations, said without his brave friend telling his story, he doesn't think the situation would have changed.

"This is victory to the media in Youngstown and to everyone who worked on his case," he said. "That picture on the front page of The Vindicator...it got everyone to speak loud."

Omran is now hoping that Adi will be able to receive his green card.

"He is good for our community," Omran said. "He is for good for the Youngstown community and the Arab community."

Earlier today, a Change.org petition asking for Amer “Al” Adi Othman not to be deported was launched by his daughter, Lina Adi.

The petition is addressed to Ryan asking him to stop the deportation and had more than 1,600 signatures.


UPDATE 1: YOUNGSTOWN — In a last-minute development, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, announced today that after working with Al Adi’s attorney, David Leopold, and the House judiciary committee, a decision was reached to grant Adi a stay of deportation.

Adi said the deportation would not take place on Sunday, and that he will know more details after checking in with immigration officials later this week.

He said he was able to stay thanks to the support of the community and the work of Ryan, as well as his lawyer and his family. he said he is "overwhelmed by the support."

Earlier today, a Change.org petition asking for Amer “Al” Adi Othman not to be deported was launched by his daughter, Lina Adi.

Al Adi is the owner of Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli and Circle Hookah and Bar in downtown Youngstown and faces deportation after living in the country for nearly four decades.

The petition is addressed to Ryan asking him to stop the deportation. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the petition had more than 1,600 signatures.


UPDATE: YOUNGSTOWN — In a last-minute development, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, announced today that after working with Al Adi’s attorney, David Leopold, and the House judiciary committee to grant Adi a stay of deportation.

Earlier today, a Change.org petition asking for Amer “Al” Adi Othman not to be deported was launched by his daughter, Lina Adi.

Al Adi is the owner of Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli and Circle Hookah and Bar in downtown Youngstown and faces deportation after living in the country for nearly four decades.

The petition is addressed to Ryan asking him to stop the deportation. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the petition had more than 1,600 signatures.


Original Thursday story:

When Al Adi leaves the United States on Sunday, he will do so as a casualty of the red tape that can strangle the country’s immigration system.

Amer “Al” Adi Othman, known locally as Al Adi, is the owner of Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli and Circle Hookah and Bar in downtown Youngstown, and he will be deported Sunday to Amman, Jordan.

Linda Adi Affidavit

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Document

Affidavit regarding Amer Adi and his relationship with his ex-wife, Linda Adi.

Adi joins the ranks of those deported despite having no criminal convictions and being an active member in his community. To date, more noncriminals have been deported from the country than individuals with criminal convictions, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security.

Though a large part of this trend is a result of apprehensions at or near international borders, there are still thousands of cases of individuals with no criminal convictions living within the U.S. who are targeted and removed each year.

Deportations peaked in 2013 under the Barack Obama administration, with approximately 435,000 individuals removed from the country. Of those 435,000, about 237,000 had no prior criminal convictions. Since 2013, deportations have steadily declined, largely due to the Obama administration’s shifting focus to prioritize criminals over noncriminals.

Under President Donald Trump’s administration, deportations overall have continued to decline – between January and September, Trump’s administration deported fewer than 150,000 people, compared with 240,000 total deportations in 2016 – though the number of incarcerations related to immigration have increased more than 40 percent since 2016.

In the case of Al Adi, a now-recanted statement given to Immigration and Naturalization Services agents in 1990 was all that was necessary to seal his fate.

In an affidavit filed in 2007, Adi’s ex-wife recalls her meeting with INS agents, describing feelings of anger and embarrassment when the federal agents began questioning her about her past relationships. During their second meeting, the agents presented Adi’s ex-wife with documents to sign that would paint the couple’s marriage as fraudulent.

“At the time I signed the paper, I was annoyed at the disruption, scared of the officers and angry with Amer for causing me this trouble. I just wanted to get things over with so I could go back inside to my children. I got the sense that the officers wanted me to say what they wanted to hear so they would leave me alone,” she wrote in the affidavit.

Later in the document, she wrote that she regretted “signing the untrue statement the INS officers prepared.”

Regardless, the damage had been done, and the couple’s marriage – which lasted less than two years – was ruled fraudulent by an immigration court.

David Leopold of Cleveland, Adi’s lawyer, said Adi was never given a chance to defend himself.

“He was never before a court, never allowed to defend himself,” Leopold said. “If there was some process involved here, it would be one thing, but there isn’t – it was a unilateral decision.”

Abraham Kay, an immigration attorney based in Cleveland who successfully litigated the local deportation case of Romanian immigrant Virgil Ciprian Gilea in 2008, said immigration is a very procedural area of law, and missing certain milestones can significantly impact an individual’s likelihood of staying in the country.

“In terms of procedure, there are lots of limitations on reopening immigration cases,” Kay said. “Ultimately, immigration officials are the ones who decide if a waiver or a statement is legitimate or not, and it really can be quite arbitrary.”

After Adi’s divorce, his ex-wife could have filed what’s known as a “good faith waiver,” which would attest that, despite their separation, the marriage was legitimate, though it does not appear that such a document was ever filed.

“I didn’t represent him then, but I would be surprised if they did enter into such an agreement. I think the most telling sign is that Ms. Adi still carries his name to this day. If it had been a sham marriage, I doubt that she would identify herself with her ex-husband,” Leopold said. “The sham here is the way the immigration authorities concocted a story of a sham marriage and foisted it upon Ms. Adi years after the couple separated.”

Unfortunately for Adi, once a green card is revoked as a result of fraud, there are few avenues for citizenship.

“Once there’s a fraud ruling, you’re effectively forever barred from becoming a U.S. citizen,” Kay said.

Among those fighting to keep Adi in the country was U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, who sponsored a private bill to temporarily halt Adi’s deportation to buy him more time to fight for a green card. Private bills are frequently used as a last resort by members of Congress who wish to defer the deportation of a constituent until the individual can work out their legal status.

“I think there should be a clear distinction between a violent criminal and a good business person with a family who provides jobs and is essentially living the American dream,” Ryan said. “I wanted to help, but unfortunately now the president has kept that from happening.”

Ryan is referring to guidance issued in May 2017 by then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff, directing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to no longer wait for the resolution of private bills before deporting individuals identified for removal.

In a letter to members of Congress, ICE Director Thomas Homan said the agency no longer would grant stays to deportations while investigating private bills because doing so might prevent ICE from carrying out Trump’s “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” executive order.

With ICE no longer deferring deportations for private bills, the last line of defense for those fighting to avoid deportation has been removed, and as a result, Adi has to go back to Jordan.