US agency says it won't delay Ohio man's deportation

AP News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2018 7:51 PM

CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio businessman facing deportation to his native Jordan won't be granted a deportation delay by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and will remain in custody pending his removal from the United States, the federal agency said Thursday.

Amer Othman accepted a meal this week and was removed from hunger strike protocols, but continues to be medically monitored at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown where he is being held, ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said in the release.

A U.S. House subcommittee last week voted to request an investigative report on the Youngstown businessman's case by the Department of Homeland Security. Youngstown-area Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan had said similar votes under past administrations would delay deportation proceedings for months while cases are reviewed.

ICE's statement says it considered the request for the investigative report and conducted a "comprehensive" review of Othman's case before making its decision. The agency maintains that multiple levels of the nation's courts have said Othman doesn't have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.

The agency said it doesn't confirm specific removal arrangements prior to removal, "due to operational security concerns."

"Congressman Ryan is very disappointed, but he remains in touch with Amer through his lawyer," Ryan's office said in a statement Thursday. "He intends to exhaust every avenue available."

Othman's attorney, David Leopold, said he and his client are very disappointed, and still do not understand why Othman was taken into custody Jan. 16 when he showed up for an ICE check-in after earlier being told his deportation was temporarily delayed.

"He had planned to leave, and he and his wife had sold their home and bought plane tickets to Jordan," Leopold said. "Why would you lock someone up, just so you can deport him at taxpayers' expense?"

Leopold says ICE needs "to do the right thing" and release Othman to go to the airport on his own. They also aren't giving up hope that there may be other options, he said.

Othman has no criminal record and poses zero flight risk, according to Leopold and Ryan.

Despite ICE's statement about hunger protocols ending, Othman's family disputes that the strike has ended, The Vindicator in Youngstown reported. According to the newspaper, Othman's daughter, Lina Adi, said her father took one teaspoon of food before refusing to continue.

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Othman opened a deli in Youngstown in 2011 and a hookah bar in 2015. Youngstown Mayor Jamael "Tito" Brown, a Democrat, has called Othman a "pioneer for the downtown renaissance" and said his deportation would be a loss for their city.

Othman, who's known as Al Adi, has said he believes he still belongs in the U.S.

Othman, 57, came to the U.S. when he was 19 and obtained his green card through his first wife. His application for a second green card was denied in the 1990s, when officials claimed his first marriage was fraudulent.

However, a court affidavit shows his ex-wife said she signed the original statement claiming a fraudulent marriage under duress when Immigration and Naturalization Service officials went to her home.