In January, Youngstown business owner Amer “Al” Adi was jailed and deported.
Amer’s wife, Fidaa Musleh, is temporarily back in town after joining her husband in Jordan, where he was sent.
“He’s visiting with his mother. His mother is 92 years old, so most of his time is spent with his mom,” Fidaa said.
She’s here visiting her daughters and helping out at The Downtown Circle, where her daughters have taken over the business.
She and daughter Lina say the last several months have been emotional. They say the fight is not over to bring Adi back to the U.S.
Now, they have support coming all the way from Nashville, Tennessee.
Singer-songwriter Tom Manche is a Youngstown native who now lives and performs in Nashville. He was so moved by Amer’s story, that he came all the way back to his hometown to play a concert for them and sing a song he wrote all about Amer, even though they’ve never met.
“I do know that he’s this beloved guy and job creator, not taking anyone’s jobs,” Manche said.
It’s titled “Welcome Home” and for Lina, it’s a song of hope.
“It’s about him coming home one day, coming home and this being his home, and even though they took him from here, hopefully, one day we’ll play the song, and he’ll be able to walk in here,” she said.
When Amer heard the song, Lina used one word to describe his reaction — overwhelmed.
“He cried when he heard the song. He was very overwhelmed that people are still talking about it,” she said.
Friends, family and supporters came to the Circle Hookah and Bar for the concert, which is the business Amer owned downtown.
“I want to tell you all that I’m going to keep the fight going,” Amer said over the phone. “That there will be a day that I am going to be welcome back in my hometown.”
Manche said he didn’t intentionally write the song to be political.
“Yeah, go after the bad guys, you got my blessing. But not guys like Al.”
Adi lived in the U.S. for 39 years and owned the downtown convenience store in Youngstown. Despite support from the community and Valley Congressman Tim Ryan, Adi was deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
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 U.S., 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 permanent residence status on Adi’s behalf.
Lina said she hopes Monday’s concert brought everyone together and created more hope that her father will be back one day.
“We’re waiting, I don’t know,” Fidaa said. “Waiting for some type of immigration reform.”