Emergency request made to stop deportation of Abdoul Abdi

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The Federal Court will hear an emergency request Thursday in Halifax to stop the deportation of Abdoul Abdi, a 23-year-old former child refugee from Somalia.

The request comes after the federal minister of public safety refused to pause a deportation hearing while the court hears a constitutional challenge to the minister’s decision to deport.

Abdi’s lawyer Ben Perryman said an order to be deported would be harmful to his client because it would automatically strip his permanent resident status.

“There will be no review of the complexities of his case or the constitutional arguments he’s making,” Perryman said Sunday. 

In Canada most of his life

Abdi, who was recently released after 4.5 years in prison for crimes including aggravated assault, is at risk of being deported because he is not a Canadian citizen, despite living in the country most of his life.

He came to Nova Scotia as a refugee when he was six but was taken into foster care soon after and subsequently lived at more than two dozen foster homes.

Abdoul Abdi

Abdi came to Canada as a refugee when he was six. (Submitted by Benjamin Perryman)

It was the responsibility of the province’s Department of Community Services to make an application for his citizenship, but that never happened.

Abdi’s sister Fatouma Abdi told CBC News last month there’s nothing back in Somalia for her brother, who doesn’t speak the language or have family there.

Abdi’s story has prompted the Nova Scotia to review cases of children who are in the care of the province and don’t have citizenship.

No job, no health care

One of the conditions of Abdi’s release was that he had to gain employment. Perryman said Abdi recently got a job working on a research project that examines crossover youth who have contact with both the child welfare system and the criminal justice system.

But that is in jeopardy now because if the Immigration and Refugee Board proceeds with a deportation hearing and decides he should be deported, Abdi  would lose the right to work and the right to health care, Perryman said. 

Abdoul protest

Abdoul Abdi’s supporters want government officials to let him stay in the country he’s spent much of his life in and overhaul how non-citizen children are dealt with. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

“So even though he might not be removed immediately, he won’t have the ability to work or the ability to access health care in the short-term which is essential to his reintegration to Canada,” he said.

The lawyer said there is a hearing scheduled March 7. Perryman said the situation has been stressful for Abdi. He said Abdi’s constitutional challenge is still in the early phase and the court has yet to decided if or when there will be a full hearing.

“He’s doing the things the correctional service is asking him to do and at the same time … the minister is seeking to remove his right to work and his right to health care before the federal court has even heard his case,” said Perryman.


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