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Youngstown Businessman Continues Hunger Strike As Community Rallies

A private prison in Youngstown, the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, is increasingly used for those detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Amer Adi has been there since Friday.

A Youngstown businessman remains in prison and on a hunger strike eight days after his controversial arrest by immigration officials. A candlelight vigil for Amer Othman Adi is planned for Thursday night, and another protest Friday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirms that Adi remains in the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, a private prison in Youngstown, which it says follows protocol for hunger strikers. That private prison has been increasingly used to hold people detained by ICE.

ICE says a request from a House Judiciary subcommittee to reopen the case is now under review.

The subcommittee passed the request last Thursday night. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who pushed the bill, had expected Adi to be released from the Geauga County Jail Friday.

Instead, ICE says it transferred Adi so his health can be monitored 24 hours a day by medical professionals. It said it could not have released him then because the subcommittee’s request had to be made in writing on subcommittee letterhead. 

Immigration officials claim Adi’s first marriage in 1980 was a sham. Adi, the owner of a downtown Youngstown grocery store, fought deportation for decades but had been preparing to leave the country with his wife on January 7. Though ICE allowed him to stay then, it arrested him when he went to an immigration meeting on January 16.  

Lina Adi, one of his four daughters, said the family had been given no explanations from ICE about their father’s detainment.

“If you can’t explain why, then you shouldn’t be doing it If you have no reasoning behind it, then you should probably just let him go," Lina Adi said. "Or let him go back home. He was on his way. There was no point to this, not reason to it.”