© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Wife of Youngstown Businessman in Deportation Fight Speaks Out

A Youngstown businessman got a temporary reprieve last night, with a special action by a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee voting to request that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security take another look at his deportation case.  U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan sponsored the bil, H.R. 1237, a private immigration bill that would grant Amer "Al Adi" Othman legal permanent residence. The review of Adi's case is a preliminary step before the subcommittee can review Ryan's bill.   

Amer Adi has been fighting deportation over a decades-old claim that his first marriage was a sham. The popular Youngstown community leader even had the support of Congressman Tim Ryan, who introduced a special bill to the House Judiciary Committee to force a review of the case. But the bill was going nowhere, and Adi’s wife, Fidaa Musleh, said they had resigned themselves to leaving the country for Jordan on Jan. 7. Instead, ICE announced it would reconsider. Musleh said they embraced that turn and had few qualms when they showed up at a regular immigration check-in Tuesday.

"We walk in and the officer says, ‘I’m not going to beat around the bush. We’re taking Amer into custody.’ I was outraged. Why? Why would you trick us? We had our tickets, we had our bags. We were voluntarily leaving. Nobody was resisting. This man did not commit any crimes, he did not violate any laws. Are you doing this?” she said.

ICE has said it gave Adi’s case a full review and it had basically run its course.

Mussla said she didn’t agree, but accepted that.

 She said Adi's arrest at an ICE office in Cleveland during a routine check-in “felt as if it was some type of conspiracy."

“Why would you let this man buy a ticket, have his bags ready to go, sell his home, and then you trick him into going back thinking there is something positive that ICE had to say to him?" she asked.

She said she got no explanation from the officer, and their immigration lawyer, David Leopold, got nothing from his supervisor.

Musleh said her husband told her of his plans for a hunger strike of water and salt they day he was taken into custody.  

“I went back into to talk with him and him a hug. They had him behind glass. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

She said she continues to parent her four girls, some of whom are in college. “I have to stay strong. I have a business in downtown Youngstown. I can’t stop. I have to keep going for him, for the girls.’”

But she said she intends to join her husband if he is deported to Jordan. “He’s my husband of 29 years. I’m sticking with him through thick or thin.”

She thinks the intention of his hunger strike was to ensure he wasn’t held for months. But neither of them expected they would be able to return to the life in Youngstown they had known.

“I don’t’ trust ICE. I don’t trust anybody. … why would they change the whole procedure to trick him. And the only thing I can see is to humiliate him. Make him an example to the rest of the world. This is what we do if you speak up.”

Hours after the interview, Fidaa Musleh got word that speaking up had helped, at least temporarily. Rep. Tim Ryan’s bill ordering a Homeland Security review is likely to gain Amer Adi a six-month stay and release from jail. Ryan was jubilant, but says the system shouldn’t depend on the intervention of a congressman. 

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.