YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Someone at Immigration and Customs Enforcement must have heard the pleas from Youngstown. That’s all anyone could figure as to why the federal agency delayed the deportation of Amer Adi Othman, owner of the Downtown Convenience Store and Deli.
Othman, also known as “Al,” will not be heading back to his native Jordan on Sunday, as was originally planned.
He removed his glasses and wiped his tears several times Thursday afternoon in the bar behind his store.
“This had happened because of the huge and tremendous support,” Al said.
He first received a call around 9 a.m. Thursday from ICE, telling him he would not have to go back to Jordan this weekend. He thought they were joking.
“So we did not really pay attention to it,” he said.
Then his lawyer called in the afternoon and confirmed the news.
“I said, ‘You’re joking.’ I said, ‘Man, you have to be joking. There is no way,'” Al said.
His wife, Fidda Musleh, said they didn’t think it was going to happen.
“But we knew we had a lot of support. My husband is a good man.”
Since Tuesday — when WKBN reported on Al’s impending deportation — people have been coming into his store.
“Grown men crying, families coming in to say goodbye, just everybody. People I have never seen before, everybody. The whole community was coming in,” said Al’s daughter, Lana Adi.
Al came to the U.S. in 1979 and said attempts to get citizenship failed. His Green Card was confiscated based on a claim that his first marriage was fraudulent. His first wife has since admitted their marriage was legitimate.
He has been fighting against his citizenship denial. Meanwhile, he remarried and opened his Youngstown business.
Al’s family believes the public support made the difference.
“Without that support, we wouldn’t have our dad in a couple of days and now we do,” Rania Adi said.
Among those credited with stopping the deportation was Congressman Tim Ryan.
“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.”
This was just a stay of deportation. Al has not been cleared to remain in the U.S. Ryan said the final decision can be made either by Congress or ICE. The exact process was unclear.
“We’ll watch the game film later. We’re going to enjoy the victory now,” Ryan said.
Al said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next but for now, he’s celebrating.
Congressman Ryan vowed to continue to fight for Al to stay in the U.S.