Abdoul Abdi

Court hears request to stall Abdoul Abdi deportation hearing

Federal Court judge is expected to make a decision by March 7

Abdoul Abdi’s attorney Benjamin Perryman (right) speaks to reporters outside of the courtroom.   Ross Andersen

A former Somalian child refugee will have to wait to find out if his deportation hearing will go ahead as scheduled next month.

Dozens of supporters of Abdoul Abdi showed up to an emergency hearing in Federal Court Thursday in Halifax. It was held so his lawyer could ask to halt a deportation hearing scheduled for March 7.

Proceedings lasted under an hour and the judge reserved his decision.

Abdoul Abdi’s sister, Fatouma Abdi, left Thursday’s proceedings feeling optimistic.

“It’s very stressful, but I have hope,” she told reporters.

Abdoul Abdi, 24, was never granted Canadian citizenship while growing up as a ward of the state in Nova Scotia. He faces deportation to Somalia, a country he hasn’t seen since he was six years old.

Because he spent more than six months behind bars for a number of previous offences, including aggravated assault, he is to be deported under Canadian legislation.

Fatouma Abdi speaks with her brother’s lawyer, Benjamin Perryman, outside the Halifax courtroom.   Ross Andersen

Abdoul Abdi’s attorney, Benjamin Perryman, told reporters his client should have received Canadian citizenship years ago.

“He would be a Canadian citizen, if he hadn’t been failed by multiple levels of government,” said Perryman.

When Abdoul Abdi came to Canada he came with two aunts and sister, but was shuffled between 31 different group homes. In that case, the responsibility to claim Canadian citizenship would have fallen to the government of Nova Scotia.

Key arguments

Perryman said that Abdoul Abdi will suffer “irreparable harm,” if the deportation hearing continues. Not only will Abdi be stripped of his permanent residency, he will lose health-care benefits and his job — a conditional requirement upon his release from jail.

Justice Keith M. Boswell acknowledged in court it is “likely” that he will be removed from Canada, if a deportation hearing continues.

Perryman said humanitarian and compassion factors should play a role in this case.

“Minister Ralph Goodale has not provided any analysis or consideration of international human rights law or the Charter in this case,” said Perryman.

“Some analysis or consideration of those issues are of a child who grew up in the care of the state, and was denied citizenship on their failures.”

Federal prosecutor Heidi Collicutt, who argued on behalf of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said Perryman’s arguments of harm were “speculative and hypothetical at best.”

Living in Toronto

Abdoul Abdi is currently living in a halfway house in Toronto and was not present at Thursday’s proceedings. He recently started a job as research assistant for underprivileged youth.

“He really likes his job and he hopes to help youth that he’s helping now,” said Fatouma Abdi.

She said this is a very stressful time for her and her brother.

“I hope that they correct their mistake and they don’t go forward with this deportation,” she said.

Rev. Elias Mutale, a supporter of Abdoul Abdi, speaks to reporters outside of the courtroom.   Ross Andersen

Rev. Elias Mutale of the African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes was among Abdoul Abdi’s supporters at the hearing.

“We want to show our strength for Abdoul,” said Mutale. “As a child who came and was subjected to the difficulties he went through, he really is a wonderful case for Canada’s humanitarian compassionate policy — that’s really what’s going to keep Abdoul here.”

Boswell said he would give a decision before March 7.