YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Dozens of people are counting on the written word to help out Amer “Al” Adi. They gathered at his business, Circle Hookah in downtown Youngstown, to write letters Monday night addressed to two people — Adi himself and Rebecca Adducci, the director of the Detroit ICE field office.
Monday completes the first week in custody for the Youngstown businessman, but family members aren’t giving up their fight to get him released.
“We are not going to forget, we are not going to give up. Everyone is going to keep fighting, and it’s growing and growing,” said Sheila Dixon, Adi’s sister-in-law.
He was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last Tuesday when he arrived for a hearing in Cleveland.
Adi has been transferred and is now being held at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.
The event, “Voices for Al,” drew members of the community together in support of Adi. They were given supplies to write to him and ICE.
“Write some letters to my dad so that he knows we’re still out here fighting for him and that he knows we’re not going to give up and so that he can stay strong, have something to do in there,” said Adi’s daughter, Lina Adi. “I heard that he didn’t have any books and that he’s just in an 8 by 10 jail cell, so this is just to give him a little bit of hope and keep him going and keep him strong.”
So that’s what they did.
“I put in there for Al that we’re all out here fighting for him, and for him to be strong and have a lot of faith because eventually, he’ll be out of there,” Julie Biskup said.
She wrote another letter, pleading, to the director of ICE’s Detroit field office.
“I told Rebecca Adducci that this is so unfair they’re doing this to him. He’s a wonderful man. He does not deserve this. He brought jobs to our community, he feeds the homeless,” Biskup said.
Adi’s family got to talk to him on the phone Monday.
“One thing he did say is he could hear the protest yesterday through the prison walls,” Dixon said.
His family, friends and local elected officials rallied his business, Downtown Convenience Store and Deli, on Sunday.
Signs in his business have multiplied but Dixon said the family still hasn’t heard a word from ICE.
That’s why they’re writing.
“It helps us feel like we’re doing something. Whether that will make a difference or not, I hope it does,” Dixon said.
Adi has been in the United States for 39 years.
Immigration officials determined that his marriage to a woman in 1980 was a “sham” based on a signed affidavit from the woman, saying she married Adi to help him stay in the United States, according to court documents. The woman later recanted her statement.
Court records also indicate that Adi abandoned his lawful permanent residence status, which was granted during his marriage to his first wife, by moving to Brazil with his current wife in 1988 and remaining outside of the U.S. until they returned in 1992. Two years after their return, his wife filed the first of three unsuccessful I-130 petitions for lawful permanent residence status on Adi’s behalf.