Adi: I love you, Youngstown
By Kalea Hall
As Lina and Rania Adi thanked a crowd at a vigil for their dad, Amer “Al” Adi Othman, or Al Adi, he just happened to call them from inside the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center.
Lina ran to grab the phone, placed it to the microphone and let her father’s voice radiate throughout the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown on Elm Street on the city’s North Side where about 100 people sat in pews listening, crying and smiling.
“Hello everybody,” he said. “I am strong because you are out there. I thank you for everything you are doing. I love you, Youngstown. You are my town. I will be out soon to thank everybody and love everybody and kiss everybody.”
The family plans to visit Adi today.
Adi is in the custody of U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement and has been since Jan. 16 when he went to meet with ICE and was shockingly taken into custody to be deported back to his native Jordan.
For as long as he has been detained, Adi has been on a hunger strike, and family, friends and community members have had protests, a letter-writing event and, Wednesday evening, a candlelight vigil.
Adi, 57, is a beloved downtown businessman who has been in the U.S. since he was 19. A claim of a fraudulent first marriage, which has since been recanted, is what led to his pending deportation.
Mahoning County Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Tracey Winbush, Adi’s friend who was with him when he was detained by ICE last week, called for everyone to fight for change of the immigration system which has needed change for a “long, long time.”
“We have to fight,” she said. “I think Al is worth the fight.”
Last week, the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security voted to request a report from the Department of Homeland Security to inform the committee whether to pass a bill offered by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, that would grant legal permanent residence for Adi.
An ICE spokesman said Wednesday the request for a report and stay of removal for Adi are under review.
Local state lawmakers reached out to Gov. John Kasich for help with Adi’s case.
The letter, signed by state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, and state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, asks the governor to devote any and all available resources to ensure Adi’s timely release.
“The governor has been one of the most outspoken leaders on the value immigrants add to our communities, and he will continue to strongly call for just, pragmatic, comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level where this issue resides,” Kasich’s press secretary, Jon Keeling, said in a statement.