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Congressman Tim Ryan

Representing the 13th District of Ohio

Congressman Tim Ryan to Leave State of the Union Seat Vacant in Honor of Amer Othman and All Immigrants Wrongfully Targeted for Deportation

January 30, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Ryan (D-OH) today announced his intention to leave his State of the Union guest seat vacant in honor of Amer Othman and all others wrongfully targeted for deportation by ICE.

“This evening, when the President of the United States walks into the House Chamber to deliver his first State of the Union Address, there will be at least one vacant seat because of the President’s own actions. Amer Othman was a pillar of the Youngstown community. He started a business downtown, employed members of our community, paid his taxes, and raised a beautiful family—all in the Mahoning Valley. Today, he no longer resides in the country he’s called home for 39 years because the Trump Administration decided to target upstanding individuals – Americans in every sense of the word – instead of violent criminals who actually pose a threat. President Trump must realize that when his words become public policy in places like Youngstown, families like Amer’s are ripped apart. That is why my guest seat at the State of the Union will remain empty—in honor of Amer and all those people being heartlessly targeted by the Trump Administration. I’m sad that America, and the Office of the President, has become a place where the politics of fear outweigh doing what is right. Amer deserves to be at the State of the Union this evening, representing himself and so many others like him, to show President Trump and Congressional Republicans that the United States is his home. Instead his seat remains empty,” said Congressman Ryan.

In early January 2018, Congressman Ryan condemned ICE’s newly issued deportation order for Amer. Since 2013, Congressman Ryan has repeatedly introduced legislation (termed a “private bill”) to prevent the deportation of Amer Othman and grant him legal status. Upon taking office, President Trump and his Administration moved to deport Amer, who has lived in this country since he was 19 years old. Amer was to be deported on January 7th, but was given last minute reprieve after local outcry. On January 16th, at a routine ICE check-in meeting in Cleveland that Congressman Ryan attended, Amer was abruptly arrested by ICE and was told that deportation proceedings would move forward.

Congressman Ryan worked with the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security to request a Department of Homeland Security departmental report on Amer’s case. On January 18th, the Subcommittee passed that measure. Under previous Administrations, the precedent has been to halt all deportation proceedings while such an investigation takes place. On January 25th, ICE announced their refusal to acknowledge the Subcommittee’s wishes and moved forward with Amer’s removal from the country. Amer was officially deported the evening of Monday, January 29th.

This case is continuing to garner national media attention: see here and here.