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'You Have No Answers': Family Of Youngstown Businessman Bewildered At ICE Decision

M.L. Schultze
Fidaa Musleh and her daughter Lina outside the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the private prison where her husband was sent after he went on a hunger strike.

Youngstown businessman Amer Othman Adi lost his final bid to remain in the country on Thursday, when immigration officials turned down a special request for a stay from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. His family went to say goodbye at the private prison where he’s been held and emerged bewildered and angry. 

Adi’s family and his lawyer said they got word the same time the media did. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would re-review his case, he would be deported to Jordan well before that review is done.

Outside the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, sobbing, Adi’s daughter Lina claimed the case has been one cruelty after another. The biggest, she says, is why ICE gave her parents false hope when it told them to call off his self-deportation on January 7, and then arrested Adi nine days later.

“We were all mentally prepared for him to be gone and then you tell him to wait and stay so you can put him in jail?” she said. “For what, and you don’t want to answer why or for what when he was leaving? Because you have no answers, you have no answers.” 

Fidaa Musleh said she was shocked that her husband wasn’t allowed to hold his daughters during their roughly hour-long meeting at the Youngstown prison.

“We thought we were going to sit with him like all the rest of the prisoners,” Musleh said. “They have him in a cage and they put us on a phone in front of a glass to talk to him.” 

Adi has been on a hunger strike since his arrest on January 16. His wife says he’s lost nearly 20 pounds, though ICE maintains he did eat Wednesday afternoon.

The deportation comes over the objections of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Mayor Tito Brown and hundreds of others who say Adi has helped to rejuvenate Youngstown.

His brother-in-law, Ghassan Musleh, acknowledges some are cheering the deportation of Adi and others. He wrote a response on his Facebook page:

"That man has done nothing but create jobs in the community; he pays his taxes, feeds a lot of the homeless, hungry people in downtown Youngstown,” Ghassan Musleh wrote. “So now that he’s getting deported, we need all you haters who call yourselves true Americans to step up to the plate and provide jobs to people. And while you’re at it, you can feed the hungry downtown."

ICE says it does not provide details on when and how someone is deported until they’re out of the country. They also say his Adi’s case – based on the claim that first marriage in 1980 was a sham – got a full review by the immigration and court system.