Emergency hearing into Abdoul Abdi deportation case set for this morning – Nova Scotia

An emergency hearing to determine whether deportation proceedings should be halted against a former child refugee from Somalia is expected to begin this morning in a Halifax courtroom.

The request follows the refusal by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to pause a deportation hearing — scheduled for next month — while the Federal Court hears a constitutional challenge to the decision to deport 24-year-old Abdoul Abdi.

“Mr. Abdi is extremely stressed at this point. He is busy starting a new job that he just began,” said Abdi’s lawyer, Benjamin Perryman.

“So he’s trying to focus on that but of course around the corner lurks the government of Canada, which is trying to place him in this place of legal limbo while his court case unfolds.”

Abdi came to Nova Scotia with his aunts and sister when he was six years old. He spent his childhood bouncing between 31 different group and foster homes.

Nova Scotia’s Department of Community Services was responsible for applying for Abdi’s citizenship on his behalf, but did not.

Abdoul Abdi

Abdoul Abdi came to Nova Scotia with his sister and aunts from Somalia when he was just six years old. (Submitted by Benjamin Perryman)

The federal government now wants to send Abdi back to Somalia because of his criminal history and because he’s not a Canadian citizen.

He was released from prison in January after serving four and a half years on charges including aggravated assault.

​Abdi, who is currently on parole and living in a halfway house in Toronto, will not be at the emergency hearing this morning in Federal Court in Halifax.

Order would strip Abdi of permanent residency

An Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada hearing to determine whether Abdi should be deported is scheduled for March 7.

Such admissibility hearings are held when the Canada Border Services Agency believes a person should not enter or stay in Canada. The immigration board decides independently whether a person can enter or remain in the country.

In this case, Perryman said, the board has little leeway because current legislation dictates that non-citizens sentenced to more than six months behind bars are to be deported.

“It does not have any legal authority to consider the constitutional aspects of this issue or any of the other complexities that extend from Mr. Abdi’s experience as a child in care in Nova Scotia,” Perryman said.

A deportation order doesn’t mean Abdi would be immediately sent to Somalia. The government would first have to weigh the dangers of that country versus the threat Abdi posed in Canada.

But Perryman said a deportation order will strip Abdi of his permanent resident status, meaning he has no access to health care and cannot legally work.

Part of Abdi’s parole conditions are that he has a job; violating the conditions could mean his return to prison. Perryman said Abdi currently has a job working with at-risk youth in Toronto.

Benjamin Perryman

Benjamin Perryman, Abdoul Abdi’s lawyer, said the deportation order would mean Abdi can no longer work — one of the condition’s of his release from prison. (Robert Short/CBC)

“The facts of this case and Mr. Abdi’s experiences as a child in care are deplorable. He grew up in a very unstable and unsettled environment. And that doesn’t justify his criminal conduct, but it does help to explain how he got here,” Perryman said.

“I think one of the unfortunate things with the minister of public safety’s choices in this case is that Canada is again trying to make Mr. Abdi vulnerable and unsettled at a crucial time in his rehabilitation.”

Perryman said if the request to pause the deportation hearing is denied by the Federal Court, there is no recourse available for Abdi to appeal a deportation order issued by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

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