Amer Adi Othman of Youngstown, Ohio, braces for deportation under the intense scrutiny of the Trump administration. Othman owns and operates a convenience store in the city, and is partially responsible for the successful revitalization of their previously blighted downtown. For all intents and purposes, Othman – Al to his friends – is the ideal entrepreneurial business owner and community stakeholder. But according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Al is illegal and must be sent packing to Jordan post haste. Yes, the American immigration system is well beyond broken. It is shattered.
An Exception to the Rule
The United States government has a myriad of immigration protocols that are routinely overlooked by state and local officials, resulting in unintended consequences that, at times, are tragic and preventable. Kate Steinle was murdered on San Francisco Pier 14 while strolling with her family. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a Mexican national with multiple felonies, was enjoying the benefits of a “sanctuary” city when he shot and killed her. Garcia Zarate was in this country illegally, after five previous deportations.
And chain migration, evolving over the past several decades, doesn’t bother with vetting for felonies. If a person is related in even a remote way to a legal immigrant, we allow them full access with all the benefits of citizenry and none of the responsibility. Do we really wonder why our systems are over-burdened?
But Othman did everything right. He immigrated in 1979 at age 19, married, and received a green card. He divorced his first wife and relocated to Ohio. He started several businesses, married again, and started a family. He put down roots, paid taxes, and created a good life for himself and his family. And he paid his gifts forward, helping the re-gentrification of a downtown Youngstown neighborhood with his business, Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli. Sure, there have been hiccups along the way:
“Then, he moved to Youngstown and married again. He and his second wife — a U.S. citizen — lived abroad for three years.
When they returned, Al’s Green Card was confiscated based on a claim that his first marriage was fraudulent.
As he fought against his citizenship denial, his life in the U.S. continued to grow. Al became a father of four daughters and owned numerous successful businesses in Youngstown. Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli has seen a rise in business and revenue over the past ten years.”
But Othman has attempted, for decades, to right the situation. He didn’t run for the shadows; he built a case. His ex-wife submitted a 14-page affidavit pleading his case, explaining that their marriage was real, although it ended in divorce. Well, jeez-Louise, divorce happens.
WKBN 27 reported that Othman’s deportation — originally scheduled for Sunday — has been delayed, but he’s not off the hook yet. Still, Al and his family are relieved — and thankful for the support of the public. “Without that support, we wouldn’t have our dad in a couple of days and now we do,” said Rania Adi, one of Al’s daughters.
Among those who were likely influential in securing the delay is Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan, who visited the family to congratulate them.
“I didn’t believe it until Tim Ryan walked in himself and told us,” said Lina Adi, one of Al’s daughters. “Then we’re like, ‘Okay, are you sure? Are you positive?’”
“I think we made the case that, look, this man should have his day in court,” Ryan said. “Fortunately, people in the right places agreed with us.”
Instead of going after actual illegal aliens, ICE officials focus on a man who has spent nearly four decades building a life as a legitimate resident and becoming the quintessential American. Othman is the exception to our rules on immigration debate; he is the immigrant we want. His story mimics the hundreds of thousands of others who have added to the fabric of our American quilt.