CINCINNATI (AP) – An Ohio businessman who has lived in the United States for 38 years and had been granted a temporary stay of deportation to his native Jordan was taken into custody Tuesday by federal immigration officials.
Youngstown businessman Amer Othman was arrested at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in in suburban Cleveland, said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who attended the check-in. Ryan, a Democrat, called the government’s action “a shameful failure of justice.”
ICE said Othman’s immigration case has undergone exhaustive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation’s courts over the past decade and the courts have held he does not have a legal basis to remain in this country.
“Mr. Othman will remain in ICE custody pending removal from the United States,” ICE said in a statement.
Othman was to be deported Jan. 7 but received a temporary stay a few weeks ago while his case was re-examined.
Ryan said Othman has no criminal record and poses zero flight risk and treating him “like an animal” flies in the face of the values ICE “is supposedly defending.”
“The Trump administration didn’t even give Amer an opportunity to say goodbye to his wife and four daughters,” Ryan said.
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.
His attorney, David Leopold, said taking him into custody was “a mean-spirited, nasty decision” made “for no other reason than to humiliate” him, The Vindicator newspaper reported.
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.
Ryan and others have worked to try to help Othman remain in the United States. The congressman said he will continue to work with his colleagues and the Department of Homeland Security.
“This fight,” Ryan said, “is not over.”