Federal court justice reserves judgement in Abdoul Abdi deportation hearing
A federal court judge has ruled to “reserve judgement” on whether to stay an emergency deportation hearing of 24-year-old Abdoul Abdi, a former child refugee from Somalia.
After recapping the facts of the case, Federal Court Justice Keith Boswell decided to suspend his final judgement in the case to temporarily halt Abdi’s deportation. He says he will return to deliver a final judgment before Abdi’s upcoming admissibility hearing.
Concurrently, Abdi’s lawyer Ben Perryman is pursuing a constitutional challenge.
Perryman warns that moving forward with a deportation hearing while Abdi’s constitutional challenge is ongoing would have been harmful to his case.
He says he is understanding of the judge’s hesitation.
“It’s such a complicated case. I can’t speak for the judge, but I think it is going to take some time to make sure they produce a just decision,” he said.
Despite having lived in the country for the majority of his life, Abdi’s lack of Canadian citizenship and lengthy criminal history have put him at risk of being deported from the only place he has known as home.
Abdi was recently released from prison after serving four-and-a-half years for multiple criminal offences including aggravated assault.
Perryman said that if Abdi is deported his client would automatically lose his permanent resident status.
Abdi was just six years old when his family fled Somalia.
He arrived in Nova Scotia as a child refugee sponsored by Sydney River United Church, in August of 2000. Upon arrival in Canada, Abdi and his sister were taken into care by the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services. By the age of eight he became a ward of the province and received permanent resident status.
Throughout his time in Nova Scotia Abdi was in and out of foster placements, homeless shelters, and group homes.
The Chronicle Herald said they obtained a February 2017 affidavit filed to federal court in which Abdi said he was physically and emotionally abused by a foster family.
Almost a year after being placed with the family, his sister was suddenly removed by community services after making an allegation of sexual abuse against her caregivers.
“I remained with this family because I was too scared to talk to community services about what was going on and I did not think there was any other people that would take me,” Abdi said.
“I tried to run away from my foster family on a number of occasions. Each time I was returned to the family and the abuse continued.”
It was the responsibility of the province’s Department of Community Services to make an application for his citizenship, but unbeknownst to Abdi they never did making him vulnerable to deportation from the start.
Canada Is Home
Abdi says he is accustomed to Canadian life and sending him back to a country he has no direct connection to would be like sentencing him to death.
“I have been in government care for sixteen years and Canadian life is all I know. If I am deported, I will certainly face death,” Abdi wrote in a letter to the CBSA.
“I have no family, friends or a means to support myself. I have forgotten the language and the customs.”
Abdi’s sister, Fatouma Abdi, also expressed concerns about her brother’s current plight.
“We don’t know the language, we don’t know the religion, we don know anything about Somalia no more,” she said.
— Power & Politics (@PnPCBC) January 18, 2018
CBSA’s primary concern in regards to Abdi’s admissibility is his extensive criminal history.
Abdi may be considered inadmissible on the grounds of “serious criminality” which states that foreign nationals who have been convicted of an offence that is either punishable by a maximum term of at least 10 years or an offence that has resulted in a term of imprisonment of more than six months may be refused and removed from Canada.
Abdi recently got a job working on a research project that evaluates troubled youth who have experience with both the child welfare system and the criminal justice system. However, his job along with many other things including his ability to be a father to his young child are now in jeopardy.
If the Immigration and Refugee Board decide that Abdi should be deported, he would lose everything, including the right to work and the right to Canadian health care.
In regards to how Abdi is doing amidst these trying times, his lawyer said, “He is doing as well as you’d think. He is in a stressful situation. He was just released, has a new job and is trying to contribute to Canadian society and get his life in order and now he is facing deportation.”
The Next Steps
Abdi is set to appear in court again at an admissibility hearing scheduled for March 7 in Toronto.
The hearing will be presided over by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and Immigration Division agency, where a decision will be made to ultimately determine Abdi’s eligibility to stay in Canada.
If Abdi is deported their is a very slim chance that he will ever be able to enter Canada again.
“In extremely rare circumstances there might be ways for a person to re-apply for permanent residence in Canada, but once you’re removed it’s very difficult to come back,” said Perryman.