Although Amer al Adi Othman was overwhelmed with emotion upon meeting his mother after nearly 20 years, his reunion with his family in Jordan was more or less bittersweet.
Othman, a business owner from Youngstown, Ohio, was deported from the United States to Jordan, a place he left 39 years ago to pursue the American dream.
"I have mixed feelings, very mixed feelings. I'm so happy, so glad to be here, my home, to see my mother, my brother, my family, my friends, that makes me proud and happy. At the same time, I feel so sad of what happened to me. I'm so sorry to tell you what happened is unjust, not right, and everyone back there knows that. What the Trump administration is doing is -- you can't even explain it," said Othman on his arrival at the Jordan airport.
Othman was entwined in a legal battle for 20 years. Things went downhill for him from 1990s when he lost his permanent residence status. Since then, immigration officials have been breathing down his neck, accusing him of sham-marriage with his first wife and later, depriving him from a legal status, despite getting an affidavit signed from his first wife.
An order for Othman’s deportation was issued in 2009 but ICE didn’t act on it. This delay on enforcement can majorly be attributed to Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan's intervention. Ryan bought more time for him by presenting a private bill to the Congress to isolate his case from general law and demand a more comprehensive review of his case.
Progress in Othman’s case came to a halt with Trump’s arrival, when authorities rapidly clamped down on immigration cases. A deportation stay, which was technically extended to two years under the private bill, was reduced to six months by the ICE, according to Ryan.
ICE also put a GPS monitor ankle bracelet on Othman in September 2017.
“Over the past decade, Adi's immigration case has undergone exhaustive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation's courts, including before the immigration courts, federal appeals courts and U.S. district court. In each review, the courts have held that Adi does not have a legal basis to remain in the US," ICE reportedly said.
The entire month of January was an emotional turmoil for Othman where he was constantly looking over his shoulder. According to his attorney David Leopold, Jan. 15 was the day when he was supposed to report to ICE’s office but the latter had an ulterior motive. He was taken into custody without any prior notice and was finally deported in Jan. 30, without giving him a chance to bid his family goodbye.
Display of such insensitivity from the authorities sent waves of anger and frustration throughout Othman's community. Ryan highlighted Othman’s status in Ohio’s community that he earned by generating jobs through his small businesses and his acts of generosity for the poor at Thanksgiving.
"If you would see the breadth of support that this gentleman has, from whether it's his Italian-Irish Catholic congressman or an African-American Pentecostal Republican woman who is supporting him or the working-class people I saw in his shop the day they thought he was going to get deported ... to show support for him," Ryan reportedly said.
Othman, who is described as a “pillar” of his community, was obviously shaken with disbelief, but he still sees light in the end of the tunnel.
"The American dream started 40 years ago for me ... I built this whole thing scratch, from nothing. Even if anybody wants to stop that American dream, I won't let them. I'm going to keep the fight going."
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