Downtown Youngstown business owner being deported: ‘This is my town’

"Al" owns the Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli on W. Federal Street in Youngstown

Youngstown Downtown Circle business owner deportation


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A beloved Youngstown business owner, whose staple downtown convenience store is credited with helping revitalize the city, is being deported.

Amer Adi Othman — or “Al,” as everyone calls him — owns the Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli on W. Federal Street.

Al’s story begins in 1979, when he came to the U.S. from Jordan at just 19 years old.

“We were all dreamers. We came to this country to build our lives, feel the freedom and do what we have to do, and we did,” Al said.

He moved to San Diego, married his first wife and received a Green Card.

“We stayed together for more than two and a half years and then we got divorced,” Al said.

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.

“Even though my ex-wife had filed an affidavit of 14 pages, saying that we were married, nobody listened and it went all the way down to the point I’m at right now,” he said.

Now Al faces deportation under the Trump Administration.

“I am one of almost 800,000 people in the United States that are in this same situation,” he said.

He has received support from Congressman Tim Ryan, who introduced legislation to prevent Al’s deportation and grant him legal status. Ryan released the following statement:

The case of Amer Othman is a tragic illustration of the abject failure of our immigration system and why it must be fixed. Amer has lived in this country since the age of 19, is happily married with four children, and is a successful local business owner. He is contributing mightily to Youngstown and our country. He does not deserve to be deported, and I am proud to have introduced a bill that, for a time, prevented his deportation. It was a long-standing policy at the Department of Homeland Security not to deport people who are the subject of introduced legislation. The Trump Administration’s decision to ignore this policy is what led to Amer’s deportation order. Amer’s wife, his children, and the entire community of people who care about him deserve better. This a disgrace and only worsens our already broken immigration system.”

So far, that bill has not been passed.

“When President Trump took office, he changed a lot of those laws,” Al said. “One of those is if you’re under a private bill, you cannot be protected from deportation. So you can be deported at the same time the bill is pending.”

Al will leave for Jordan on Sunday with his wife by his side. He says he will not give up his fight to return home to Youngstown.

His four daughters will be staying in the U.S. and, with help from other managers, will keep Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli open.

“I invested my money, I invested my work, me and my family built this from scratch,” Al said. “This is my town, my downtown. I am from here and I hope I will be back again, here.”

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