In a last-minute reprieve, Ohio father Amer “Al Adi” Othman was granted a stay of deportation, keeping him with his family for now and saving him from a removal that was scheduled for this Sunday. The announcement is a victory for Othman; his family; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who filed a private bill for him; and David Leopold, the immigration attorney and advocate who helped him win the stay.
Othman, 57, is a successful Ohio businessman who has employed hundreds of people and is credited with helping to revitalize downtown Youngstown. He has resided in the U.S. for almost four decades and his wife of 30 years and four daughters are all U.S. citizens. (Two are college students and the other two are college graduates; one is an English college professor).
Othman entered the U.S. at 19 years old with a student visa and married a U.S. citizen in 1979. After receiving a green card, Othman divorced and later re-married Fidaa Musleh, an American citizen. Othman lived abroad for three years, and upon returning to the U.S. had his green card confiscated for being away too long.
Immigration authorities then denied his second wife’s petition for a green card, claiming his first marriage was a sham — even though his first wife still carries his last name and filed a 14-page affidavit refuting the false allegations and documenting the veracity of their marriage. In 2007, immigration officials ordered Othman deported and in 2013, Rep. Ryan filed a private bill in Congress to prevent the deportation and grant him legal status.
As Ryan said:
The private bill is a longstanding agreement that says a deportation can be stayed until it can be fully resolved, if a member of the House asks for it. We filed the bill [for Othman] every year since because Adi’s contribution to Youngstown has been amazing. He never committed a crime, ran businesses, paid taxes, sent children to Catholic schools and was a big part of the downtown renaissance. And this is the thanks he gets.
Calling the Othman case a “tragic illustration of the abject failure of our immigration system and why it must be fixed,” Rep. Ryan strongly criticized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy which previously had not deported people who were the subjects of pending legislation. Upon taking office, Trump changed the DHS policy and commenced deportation proceedings against Othman. Despite his lack of criminal history, Otham was fitted with an ankle monitor.
“I was very active in this community and I loved this community. This is something that will live with me forever. I have served my home community. I’m proud of that fact,” said Othman, wiping away tears, in a video shot before his deportation reprieve.
Julie Nemecek, an Ohio immigration attorney, said in a video about Othman’s case that the Trump Administration’s attempts to deport mothers and fathers like him are unprecedented and damaging. As she said:
This is probably the worst phase of immigration that I’ve seen since I started practicing. It creates just this unbearable hardship. The separation of families has long-lasting psychological effects, it creates harm; it just simply cannot be repaired. And when one family member – the breadwinner or a mother that they rely on – is simply removed from their life, it simply changes everything. It’s just something that can’t be undone.
Echoed Elizabeth Brown, Columbus City Council Member, in a WKBN video about Othman:
When we disrupt the community and make people uneasy, make people feel like they even more so need to live in the shadows, it is not just a moral problem for us, but beyond that, it’s an economic problem. Immigrants are responsible for a lot of positive economic growth in our community.