Pakistan-US ties tested but not killed by huge aid cut

Senior Pakistani military officials have confirmed that they continue to maintain ties to their US counterparts.

    Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani and US officials are continuing to meet and cooperate “at all levels”, despite the suspension of $1.1bn in US aid and amid fiery statements by political leaders declaring the end of Islamabad’s alliance with Washington, diplomats told Al Jazeera.

    “There is no freeze [in relations],” said a senior Pakistani foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are speaking to each other, at all levels. We are not sharing the details of that at this time, but the effort to find some common ground or traction on both sides is there.”

    A US State Department official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that talks between the two sides were “ongoing”.

    A high level visit by a senior US diplomat to the Pakistani capital is expected in the coming week, with talks on moving an increasingly troubled relationship forward.

    On Friday, Pakistan’s powerful military, which has ruled the country for roughly half of its 70-year history, confirmed that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had spoken with US CENTCOM military commander General Joseph Votel twice in the last week, as well to an unnamed US senator.

    A day earlier, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed the two sides were “continu[ing] to communicate with each other on various issues of mutual interest at different levels”.

    The diplomatic and military contacts are at odds with public statements made by both Pakistani and US leaders.

    Earlier this week, Pakistani Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir claimed that Pakistan had suspended all military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, a claim the US State department denied, and which seems to be at odds with General Bajwa’s contact with the US CENTCOM chief.

    “We have received no notification regarding a suspension in defence and intelligence cooperation,” said Richard Snelsire, the spokesperson for the US embassy in Islamabad.

    Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif declared that an alliance with the United States was “over”, after US President Donald Trump suspended $1.1bn in aid and accused Pakistan of harbouring armed groups that fight US forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

    The foreign ministry appeared on Friday to publicly back down from that position.

    “The remarks of the foreign minister need to be seen in the proper perspective,” said Muhammad Faisal, the ministry’s spokesperson. “The foreign minister was expressing his frustration at the unwarranted US accusations against Pakistan and the unilateral decision to suspend the security assistance, despite Pakistan’s extraordinary sacrifices and contribution in the war against terrorism.”

    Trump tweet ignites storm

    The US has long accused Pakistan of providing safe haven to members of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network armed groups, which US and Afghan forces have been fighting in neighbouring Afghanistan for 17 years.

    In 2016, then Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone attack while travelling under a false identity in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. 

    Pakistan denies that it harbours members of either group, saying it has acted effectively against all armed groups on its territory. It accuses the US and Afghanistan of not doing enough to eliminate safe havens for the Pakistan Taliban in eastern Afghanistan.

    The latest tensions in the relationship began on January 1, when US President Trump tweetedthat the US had “foolishly” given Pakistan $33bn in aid over 15 years.

    “[Pakistan has] given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” he said. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.”

    Pakistan vehemently denied the allegations, with the National Security Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, declaring the accusation “completely incomprehensible” at the time.

    Since 2001, the United States has, in fact, given Pakistan $14.79bn in military and security aid, according to US government data. 

    It has also reimbursed roughly $14.57bn to the Pakistani military under Coalition Support Funds (CSF), a fund created to reimburse US allies for operations taken in aid of US objectives.

    On January 4, the US confirmed that it was suspending all security assistance to Pakistan “until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network”.

    The aid cut includes $255m in direct military aid, as well as a further $900m in reimbursements to the Pakistani military that have now been suspended. 

    In talks with Pakistani officials since the suspension, US diplomats and others have communicated specific demands, said the senior Pakistani diplomat.

    “We are discussing some very concrete steps,” he said, but declined to specify them, given the sensitivity of the negotiations.

    Aid cut ‘unlikely to work’

    Analysts say the aid cut is unlikely to have a major effect on Pakistan’s policy in the region.

    “Aid cuts are nothing new in the US-Pakistan relationship,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director at the US-based Woodrow Wilson Center think-tank. “They’ve happened various times before, and in all cases Pakistan’s behavior didn’t change.”

    Kugelman believes the aid suspension has been “a long time coming”, given the Trump administration’s raised rhetoric against Pakistan since the announcement of a new South Asia and Afghanistan policy last August, but that it is unlikely to change Pakistan’s rationale for allegedly backing groups such as the Haqqani network or the Afghan Taliban.

    “For Pakistan, maintaining ties to these groups, […] which are virulently anti-Indian, pushes back against the presence of Pakistan’s bitter Indian foe in Afghanistan,” he said.

    “Second, these groups are a useful hedge to Pakistan against the eventual withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. When that withdrawal happens- and it will one day- Afghanistan could experience rampant destabilisation, and Pakistan will want to retain ties to the most powerful non-state actors in Afghanistan.” 

    Hasan Askari Rizvi, Analyst

    Others point out that Pakistan has its own concerns regarding alleged Pakistan Taliban sanctuaries in eastern Afghanistan. On Friday, the Foreign Office said that attackers involved in a suicide bombing in the southwestern city of Quetta on Tuesday were “traced back to Afghanistan”.

    “Pakistan only talks a bout the Pakistan Taliban sitting on the other side, and the US only talks about people coming from Pakistan,” says Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based analyst. “So they do not want to acknowledge the concerns ofthe other side. This problem is on both sides.”

    Rizvi expects that in order to vent US pressure, Pakistan may take action against some Haqqani Network fighters in Pakistan, but that this would not include any major leaders.

    “Pakistan may push some of these fighters out quietly, but it won’t accept it publicly,” he said. “Because Afghanistan does not accept that the Pakistan Taliban is sitting in Afghanistan. Both sides have to be realistic, which is very unlikely.”

    Despite the fiery rhetoric from political leaders on either side, however, both sides appear determined to push forward through dialogue.

    “Both of us have to move from our stated positions, whether it is a superpower or Pakistan. We have to find common ground. This is exactly what we are trying to do now,” said the senior Pakistani diplomat.

    Follow Asad Hashim on Twitter: @AsadHashim

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    'We will fight': 9/11 families renew bid to sue Saudi

    Victims’ relatives try to prove Saudi involvement in first hearing after Congress removed aspects of sovereign immunity.

      New York, United States – Saudi Arabia has again defended its government against allegations of providing support to the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York, as the kingdom’s lawyers faced family members of victims in a Manhattan federal courtroom.

      Thursday’s hearing marked the third time a group of families of 9/11 victims and survivors have tried to sue the Saudi government for damages relating to the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people.

      Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudi citizens.

      It was the first hearing since Congress passed legislation removing aspects of sovereign immunity that had prevented previous cases against the Saudi government from being heard.

      Victims’ relatives, survivors and insurance companies have claimed that members of the Saudi government supported the al-Qaeda-affiliated men who hijacked and crashed planes into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, and a Pennsylvania field.

      They also accuse Saudi Arabia of funding charities that supported al-Qaeda.

      Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, fought for the legislation to limit sovereign immunity.

      She said her group would keep pushing to expose what she sees as clear financial ties between the attack and the royal family.

      “I’ll never be tired of doing this,” Strada told Al Jazeera. “We will fight until the end.”

      She said her life had not been the same since she lost her husband, Tom, the father of her three children.

      “I don’t have anything else. I’m going to take this as far as I can.”

      In 2015, the suspicion that the Saudi attackers had help from their government was investigated and dismissed for lack of evidence by the 9/11 Commission.

      But lawyers for the plaintiffs say the commission’s report was inconclusive, and new evidence has since come to light, including previously classified documents and supporting testimony from two former FBI agents and former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who served on the 9/11 Commission.

      ‘Hearsay and speculation’

      Lawyers for Saudi Arabia say the accusations are “baseless” and are again trying to get the case dismissed, arguing in court documents that the new evidence is “hearsay and speculation, insufficient to support the findings required for jurisdiction over Saudi Arabia”.

      The families believe the evidence shows that US-based Saudi government agents helped the hijackers and that the government knowingly funded charities that supported “anti-Western, jihadist ideology”.

      Lawyer Sean Carter, who represents victims and their family members, told the judge that the charities were “the principal source of funding for al-Qaeda leading up to the 9/11 attacks”.

      He argued the judge should allow the case to move forward to the next phase, when the plaintiffs would be able to summon prominent members of the Saudi royal family and religious leadership to testify and provide documents.

      Saudi officials are trying to stop that from happening and accuse the plaintiffs of equating Islam with “terrorism”.

      “To equate missionary work, building mosques, providing Qurans, with terrorism is not proper in this court,” lawyer Michael Kellogg argued in court.

      The judge could take up to four months to decide whether or not to let the trial proceed.

      If the trial is allowed to continue, it is likely to strain diplomatic and economic relations between the US and Saudi Arabia.

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      Trump-Russia probe: Reports say Trump wanted to sack Mueller

      Depending on the circumstances, like the firing of FBI Director James Comey, firing the special prosecutor could be interpreted as an ‘obstruction of justice’.

        US President Donald Trump has attacked the media again while in Davos.

        He also accused the New York Times of “fake news” over its report that the president wanted to sack Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who’s looking into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

        But he backed down when the top White House lawyer threatened to resign.

        Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane has more.

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        US scientists to protect whales from ship collisions

        Off the west coast of the United States, the largest animal on the planet and giant ships are on a collision course. Dozens of blue whales are killed every year in shipping lanes off the coast of California.

          Off the west coast of the United States, the largest animal on the planet and giant ships are on a collision course. Dozens of blue whales are killed every year in shipping lanes off the coast of California.

          Now, scientists are looking at ways to develop a warning system for ships in order to save the whales.

          Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Santa Barbara.

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          Olympic champion Simone Biles: 'I too was sexually abused'

          US Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles says that she too was a victim of Larry Nassar, the former team doctor who will be sentenced this week for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of young athletes in his care.

            US Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles says that she too was a victim of Larry Nassar, the former team doctor who will be sentenced this week for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of young athletes in his care.

            Al Jazeera’s Elise Holman reports.

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            Tsunami warning cancelled after Alaska earthquake

            Residents on Alaska’s Kodiak Island received warnings of a potential tsunami early on Tuesday after 7.9 earthquake.

              A powerful earthquake off Alaska’s Kodiak Island briefly prompted a tsunami warning for a large swath of coastal Alaska and Canada’s British Columbia.

              The National Tsunami Center cancelled the warning just after 12GMT on Tuesday, but an advisory remained in effect for parts of Canada’s west coast. 

              Tsunami watches for the US west coast were also cancelled. 

              The quake was recorded about 250km southeast of Kodiak Island early on Tuesday morning.

              Following the large tremor, warnings from the National Weather Service sent to mobile phones in Alaska warned: “Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland.”

              Kodiak officials warned residents to evacuate if they lived in low-lying areas and tsunami sirens were used to notify the public.

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              Trump delivers State of the Union address amid protests

              In first State of the Union, Trump boasts about US economy amid protests over immigration and sex abuse.

                US President Donald Trump boasted about the economy, job growth and his “America first” policy during his first State of the Union address, which was met by protests inside and outside of Congress.

                “This, in fact, is our new American moment,” Trump said on Tuesday evening as he laid out his top priorities for the year ahead.

                “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

                The president addressed issues from job growth and tax reform to infrastructure, immigration reform and national security. 

                Trump highlighted that “since the election, we have created more than 2.4 million new jobs” and “unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low”.

                While the job market and economy have seen growth, analysts have pointed out that the upward trend began before Trump took office.

                The US president also congratulated himself and Congress on passing a massive tax overhaul, which has been criticised by Democrats and rights groups for unfairly benefiting wealthy Americans, while raising taxes for middle-class families. It will also add nearly $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years.

                Immigration reform

                Trump again called on Congress to pass immigration reform package that includes: creating “a path to citizenship” for 1.8 million undocumented people who were brought to the US as children; “fully securing the border” by building a wall on the US-Mexico border and ending the diversity visa lottery programme.

                He also bid to stop immigration based on family ties – which Trump often refers to as “chain migration” – a phrase rights groups and Democrats call “unhelpful” and “racist”. 

                Immigration reform has been high on the agenda for Democrats, who are seeking a permanent way to protect recipients of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, which was ended last year by the Trump administration.

                Earlier this month, the government shut down for three days after Democrats and Republicans failed to reach an agreement on DACA, which the Democrats tied to government spending measure.

                A temporary spending bill was passed, however, after Democrats accepted a promise by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to debate immigration on a “level playing field”.

                Guantanamo to remain open

                On foreign policy, Trump said he was “proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory” recently held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

                Earlier this month, Paul E Funk II, the commanding general of the US operation against ISIL in Syria and Iraq, said that while “more than 98 percent of the land once claimed by the terrorist group has been returned to the people”, the armed group’s “repressive ideology continues” and conditions remain for the armed group to return.

                The president announced he was directing the defence department to keep open the controversial prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

                Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, signed an executive order in 2009 to close the facility, but it has remained open.

                The US president also called for the modernisation of the US nuclear arsenal, warning that: “North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.”

                Trump named China and Russia as rivals.

                Immigrants in audience 

                More than a dozen Democratic Congress members did not attend the speech, which local media reported could have marked the biggest boycott of its kind for a State of the Union address.

                Several Democrats brought undocumented immigrants and recipients of the DACA programme, also known as Dreamers, as their guests to the speech.

                “I will be bringing Denea, one of California’s 220,000 DACA recipients,” Senator Kamala Harris said on Twitter before the address. “Denea, a UCLA alumnus, is actively involved in empowering black immigrant communities through advocacy work.”

                Others brought sex abuse survivors as guests. This year, allegations of sexual abuse in the film industry, politics and other workplaces have rocked the US, prompting the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

                Several women in the audience wore black in solidarity with those who have been affected by sexual abuse and harassment.

                Trump himself is facing more than 20 sexual misconduct allegations, according to the Washington Post.

                Outside the Capitol building, hundreds of anti-Trump protesters chanted “lock him up” as Trump’s motorcade arrived for the address, according to US media.

                On Monday, activists and celebrities gathered in New York City for a “People’s State of the Union” to highlight some of the greatest achievements of the “resistance movement” against Trump.

                Al Jazeera recently examined the State of America Under Trump in a series. Read: 

                Trump’s America: A shrinking space for protests

                Trump’s America: ‘Dreamers must make deal with devil’

                Trump’s America: An ‘attack’ on climate change fight

                Trump’s America: ‘War of attrition’ on journalists

                Trump’s America: A war on police, or their detractors?

                Trump’s America: ‘An assault on women’s health’

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                Neo-Nazis and white supremacists celebrate Trump's SOTU

                David Duke and Richard Spencer, among others ‘thanked’ the US president for his address.

                  US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address has garnered praise among white supremacists, neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and other far-right social media users.

                  On Tuesday, Trump delivered his first State of the Union, the annual speech the president presents to a joint session of the United States Congress.

                  In the speech, Trump vowed to protect US citizens because “Americans are dreamers, too”, referring to the name for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy.

                  Under that policy, undocumented immigrants who arrived as children are allowed to remain in the country for a certain period. DACA was introduced in 2012 by Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama. Trump announced he was ending the programme last year, giving Congress until March to come up with a permanent way to protect nearly 800,000 DACA recipients.

                  White supremacists quickly took to social media to comment on the president’s comments, with many of them praising the characterisation of Americans as “dreamers”.

                  In a Twitter post, David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a racist organisation popular in the southern US for over a century after slavery ended in the 1860s, thanked the president.

                  In an interview with CNN, Trump had said of Duke and other white supremacists who endorsed him: “You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about.”

                  Following widespread condemnation, he said: “I don’t need his endorsement; I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement.”

                  ‘We actually elected this man’

                  White supremacist Richard Spencer, who did offer some critiques of the president’s speech, also celebrated Trump’s comments on migration.

                  Spencer is a leading figure in the alt-right, a loosely knit coalition of white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

                  Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, bragged that the far right helped get Trump into office on GAB, another social media network that has become popular with far-right users who have been kicked off Twitter and Facebook for violating hate speech guidelines.

                  “Anytime one of these official events happens, I’m always jarred by the fact that we actually elected this man President of the United States of America,” Anglin wrote.

                  Anglin’s Daily Stormer has struggled to maintain a site host provider since the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017.

                  That rally saw white supremacist James Alex Fields allegedly plough his car into a march and kill 32-year-old anti-fascist protester Heather Heyer, injuring dozens more.

                  Following the deadly incident, Anglin’s website was forced to relocate from GoDaddy, a web hosting service, after an article described Heyer as a “fat skank”.

                  Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at the InfoWars conspiracy theory website, also joined the chorus of far-right commentators applauding Trump online.

                  Mike Cernovich, a conspiracy theorist and far-right commentator, described Tuesday as “a good day for the good guys” in response to Trump’s address.

                  Cernovich is affiliated with the “alt-light”, a far-right, pro-Trump movement that avoids the open white supremacy of the alt-right and advocates civic nationalism.

                  Today was a good day for the good guys. #SOTU

                  Tonight is what American leadership and strength looks like.

                  After 8 terrible years of whiney, ESPN-watching Obama.

                  Impossible to imagine Hillary hacking her way through #SOTU

                  Tonight is a great night to be America, tonight everyone is MAGA!

                  White supremacist killings ‘double’ 

                  Since he took office, many of Trump’s policies – attempting to ban visitors from Muslim-majority countries and limiting immigration, among others – have enjoyed widespread support among members of the far right. 

                  While the president has repeatedly taken to Twitter to rail against violence allegedly committed by Muslims or immigrants, he has been less vocal about deadly incidents carried out by the far-right. 

                  This hesitancy has led to widespread criticism over failure to speak out against far-right violence on several occasions. 

                  After the violence in Charlottesville, critics decried the president’s assertion that there were “very fine people” on both the far-right and anti-fascist sides, which erupted in violent clashes during that demonstration. 

                  Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report that found that the number of people killed by white supremacists had doubled in 2017 when compared to the previous year. 

                  Of the 34 people killed by “domestic extremists” last year, at least 18 were killed by white supremacists, the ADL’s report noted. 

                   

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                  Donald Trump 'undermining global press freedom': CPJ

                  US president has had the most negative effect on press freedom worldwide, according to a journalism advocacy group.

                    Washington, DC – Donald Trump has been awarded a tongue-in-cheek prize for “undermining global press freedom” by a journalism advocacy group, after the US president’s first year in office was dominated by personal attacks on media outlets and reporters.

                    Trump topped the list of world leaders accused by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) of attempting to silence critics and censor citizens. 

                    Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa programme director, said Trump was awarded the prize for “overall achievement” because of the effect he had “locally and internationally [on] the cause of press freedom”.

                    “This is the president of the United States and what he says matters,” Mansour told Al Jazeera.

                    The ironic awards were handed out this week to various heads of state who have “gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media”, the group said.

                    The list also included Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

                    1,000 tweets

                    Over the past year, the Trump administration has accused media outlets of spreading “fake news”, an epithet that has been since adopted by leaders in countries across the world.

                    Trump was also named runner-up in the “most thin-skinned” category, losing to Erdogan.

                    The US president’s response to criticism in the media has been frequent, ranging from issuing threats to sue outlets or having their broadcast licenses revoked, to making suggestions that US libel laws be changed to make it easier to go after news organisations.

                    Since 2015, when he first declared his presidential candidacy, Trump has posted about 1,000 tweets that criticise or disparage the press, according to a tally by the Columbia Journalism Review.

                    Using Twitter as his social media tool of choice, Trump has regularly insulted media outlets, calling them “garbage”, “sad” or “failing”.

                    He has also called for various journalists to be fired and for certain media organisations to be boycotted.

                    On the campaign trail, Trump mocked a New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition which affects the functioning of the joints.

                    Trump’s latest attack has focused on Michael Wolff, author of the new White House tell-all book, Fire and Fury. Trump’s lawyers had attempted to block its publication while a spokeswoman for the president said the book was full of “ridiculous lies”.

                    Journalists jailed

                    Meanwhile, the number of imprisoned journalists reached a record high last year, with 262 journalists behind bars worldwide at the end of 2017, CPJ reported.

                    The group said Russia and China hold the tightest grip on their respective media.

                    Using censorship and internet controls, as well as harassment and imprisonment, Beijing has restrained the work of its journalists. Under Putin, Russian independent media has slowly dissipated as journalists were either killed, jailed or harassed, according to CPJ.

                    This week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was named runner-up for CPJ’s “most outrageous use of terror laws against the press” award. At least 20 journalists were imprisoned in Egypt at the end of last year, the group said.

                    The de facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, won the prize for the “biggest backslider in press freedom” for security officials’ harassment of journalists trying to report on the crisis affecting the majority-Muslim Rohingya ethnic group.

                    The UN has termed the attacks against the minority “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

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                    Amer Othman Adi deported after living 40 years in US

                    The Palestinian businessman was deported after being given conflicting information from immigration officials.

                      The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) deported Amer Othman Adi, a Palestinian man who lived in Ohio, on Monday, according to local media.

                      Adi had lived in the US for roughly 39 years before his deportation to Jordan, where he holds citizenship.

                      He lived in Youngstown, Ohio, where he was “ripped from his four daughters, his wife, and the country that he has called home for over thirty years,” Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who fought his deportation, said in a statement. 

                      Adi was a business owner in Youngstown, a city of 64,000. “He hired members of our community. He paid taxes. He did everything right,” Ryan continued.

                      Born in Jordan to Palestinian parents, Adi came to the US at the age of 19. He received a green card, or permanent residence permit, after his first marriage.

                      Immigration authorities began removal procedures against the immigrant after his first wife said their marriage was fake.

                      After being charged with “marriage fraud,” Adi lived under a deport order from 2009. His first wife testified in a sworn affidavit that their marriage was legitimate, but that she was pressured by authorities to say otherwise.

                      The Palestinian man was protected by “private bills” passed by elected officials in the US House of Representatives for years. 

                      These bills typically provide relief to a specific person, as opposed public bills that address nationwide issues.

                      The bill was rescinded under President Donald Trump, who has overseen a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.

                      “While ICE acknowledges Congress’ authority to pass legislation providing immigration benefits to non-citizens, alien beneficiaries need not be present in the United States for a private immigration relief bill to be introduced, considered and/or enacted,” ICE spokesperson Khaalid Walls said in the statement.

                      Adi was detained without warning by ICE on January 16 after appearing for a routine check-in appointment. He was told last September that he would be deported by January 7, but was then reportedly informed the order had been called off.

                      The Youngstown community was reportedly surprised to hear ICE apprehended the member of their community.

                      Representative Ryan shared their surprised.

                      “There are violent criminals walking the streets, yet our government wasted our precious resources incarcerating him,” he said in the statement.

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