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Abdoul Abdi now facing immigration hearing and could be deported

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HERALD NEWS — The lawyer representing a former child refugee fighting to stay in Canada despite his criminal past says deportation would be a violation of international human rights law.

Benjamin Perryman is the lawyer for Abdoul Abdi, 23, who recently came to the end of a five-year federal sentence at Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick for aggravated assault, assaulting a police officer with a car, theft of a motor vehicle, and dangerous driving.

He is now facing deportation to Somalia, a country to which he has no connection and one that is so dangerous Canadian officials can’t even travel to some parts.

Abdi should have been released from Dorchester this week to serve the remainder of his sentence at a halfway house in Toronto, but he was arrested by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and placed in immigration detention.

The CBSA decided Wednesday to refer Abdi to the immigration division for an admissibility hearing for the second time. The hearing is set to take place Monday.

In July 2016 Abdi, who came to Nova Scotia from Somalia at the age of six, was first deemed inadmissible to Canada. According to Canadian immigration laws, a person can be deemed inadmissible by the CBSA for reasons that include having been found guilty of a serious crime resulting in a sentence of six months or more, or for an offence that carries a maximum term of 10 years.

Abdi subsequently sought an application for leave and judicial review in federal court. In October a federal court judge overturned the 2016 decision, referring the case back to the CBSA.
Perryman had hoped that this would be a second chance for Abdi to plead his case and bring to light facts that were initially omitted. The original submission by Abdi to the CBSA was only two pages long, and at the time he was not aware why he was even writing the letter or that he was facing deportation, nor did he have a lawyer to assist him. Many details about Abdi’s life were not considered for the initial decision, Perryman said.

Things like Abdi’s troubled childhood in Somalia, which included witnessing the murder of close family members, the abuse he and his sister suffered as children in foster care in Nova Scotia, and that while he was in the care of Nova Scotia Community Services from the age of seven, no one applied for citizenship on his behalf — something that should have been the responsibility of the provincial government.

Perryman said the current submission was around 30 pages long, but yielded the same decision by a delegate of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Wednesday: to send Abdi to an admissibility hearing.

“This time Mr. Abdi did raise those arguments and they were completely ignored by border services in their decision,” Perryman said.

“It’s unfortunate that the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness continues to ignore Canada’s international human rights law obligations, which are clear in cases like (Abdi’s).”

Perryman said the United Nations has previously held in identical cases that it would be a violation of international law to remove people like Abdi. He said the previous Conservative government also ignored those obligations, but he hoped the Liberals would have more respect for international law.

“It’s also upsetting to see government unwilling to take any responsibility for what happens when a young person falls through cracks that governments have created, and cracks that governments have refused to fix knowing that they exist.”

With the admissibility hearing scheduled for Monday, Perryman said Abdi is scared and anxious about what comes next.

He said the rules are such that at the hearing the government can only consider what is in the CBSA report by the minister’s delegate, and not any outside circumstances.

“It used to be that they could consider all the person’s circumstances and then there was an appeal from that. As it presently is they have to issue a removal order if the convictions in that report are well-founded and meet the definition of serious criminality, which they do in this case.”

The removal order would strip Abdi of his permanent resident status and set the wheels in motion for deportation. Because Somalia is a dangerous country, the government would also get something called a danger opinion showing that the danger to the public if Abdi says in Canada exceeds the danger he would face if he is deported in Somalia.

Perryman said Abdi will attempt to go back to federal court again and start the cycle over, which could potentially result in a third CBSA decision by a different minister’s delegate if the court again rules in his favour. Those proceedings were initiated on Wednesday.

The Chronicle Herald reached out to Goodale’s office for comment, but a spokesperson said they were not able to comment on specific cases for privacy reasons.

Canada

N.S. man facing deportation to Somalia to be released, lawyer says

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TIMES COLONIST — HALIFAX — The lawyer for a young man who has spent most of his life in Canada but is now facing deportation to Somalia says his client will soon be released from detention.

Benjamin Perryman says the Immigration and Refugee Board has ordered Abdoul Abdi to be released from custody.

Abdi was six years old when he arrived in Nova Scotia as a refugee from the war-torn, African country.

He went to live with his aunt, who didn’t speak English, and was soon apprehended by the Nova Scotia government and put into foster care.

Between the ages of eight and 19, Abdi was moved 31 times, separated from his sister and was never granted citizenship.

His aunt’s efforts to regain custody were rejected, and attempts to file a citizenship application for the children was blocked.

Abdi served five years in prison for multiple charges, including aggravated assault.

Perryman said Abdi was given grossly inadequate care by the province as a foster child. He has said deporting him to Somalia — a country to which he has no ties and where he would be unable to care for his Canadian-born daughter — would be unfair.

Abdi’s case has become a rallying point for advocates who say it was wrong for the province to fail to apply for citizenship on his behalf.

Stephen McNeil, Nova Scotia’s premier, said last week that he has ordered the province’s Community Services Department to complete a review of any cases that would require supports similar to those needed by Abdi.

The Canada Border Services Agency detained Abdi when he was released from prison earlier this month.

Although a date is not finalized, Abdi, 24, will soon be released to a halfway house in the greater Toronto area.

“He will likely be transferred to a halfway house tomorrow. Canada continues to pursue his deportation,” Perryman said in a tweet Monday.

(Global News, The Canadian Press)

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Canada failed Abdoul Abdi but it’s not too late to do the right thing

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The Somali refugees life is a tragic story that highlights the gaps in Canadian institutions and systems that disproportionately and negatively impact Black Canadians.

“If it was your son, would you do anything to stop this?”

This was the question posed directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by Fatouma, the sister of Abdoul Abdi, at a town hall event in Halifax this week.

Abdi’s is a tragic story that highlights the gaps in Canadian institutions and systems that disproportionately and negatively impact Black Canadians.

Abdi came to Canada as a child refugee from Somalia in 2000 with his sister and aunts. His mother died in a refugee camp while awaiting the three-year process that eventually landed his family here.

Under uncertain circumstances, of which his family continues to seek clarification due to language barriers at the time, the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services removed a 7-year-old Abdi and his sister from the care of their aunt. Over the next decade the siblings were separated and Abdi was shuffled between 31 homes.

Abdi’s aunt never stopped fighting for guardianship, and while she obtained her own citizenship she was denied the opportunity to apply for citizenship on behalf of her niece and nephew. While under child protection, Abdi was provided insufficient support to navigate the process of becoming a Canadian citizen on his own.

He was failed by the very system that was meant to protect him.

For child welfare advocates, Abdi’s story and path from care to the criminal justice system is a familiar one. For the crimes he committed in his youth, which included aggravated assault, time has justly been served. At the moment of his release, as he prepared to reunite with his family and reintegrate into society, Abdi was detained once more.

Without his citizenship in place, Abdi was left vulnerable to the immigration process that could possibly lead to deportation.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder to speak truth to power, advocates across Canada have spoken out with a resounding roar on Abdi’s behalf, garnering attention and seeking immediate remedy for his case.

In response to Fatouma’s question, Trudeau emphasized compassion and empathy while outlining the ways in which he recognized Canadian systems failed Abdi.

“It opened our eyes to something that many of us knew was ongoing in many communities but we continue to need to address,” he said.

While his response was well informed, I would have liked to hear the prime minister name systemic anti-Black racism as a key factor to be addressed.

We need to directly acknowledge the cracks in our government systems through which Black Canadians are falling through at disproportionately high rates so that we can proactively tackle them.

South of our border, the president of the United States has continued his divisive political agenda anchored in anti-Black racism. After hearing of his comments this week I wonder how his defenders continue to uphold him as a leader.

Characterizing Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “s—hole countries,” in an immigration meeting Trump reportedly asked, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

As thousands of Haitian families look to Canada in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to rescind deportation protections from nearly 60,000 Haitian refugees following the devastation of the 2010 earthquake, I hope Canada will show the compassion and empathy our prime minister talked about in his town hall this week and take them in.

Canada should be aiming for nothing less than global leadership in the steps we take to address anti-Black racism. To do this successfully we will need active engagement from Canadian political leaders.

They should be proactively partnering with Black communities to identify priorities, set goals, communicate them publicly, and track progress toward success.

It’s difficult to engage in dialogue about policy while Abdi and his family live in crisis, facing this terrifying uncertainty. I hope this nightmare is over for them very soon.

But how is it fair that his story be used to advance public policy before his own livelihood is restored?

It is time for him to be reunited with his family so they may begin the long journey of healing from these painful experiences. That is what’s fair.

And I hope once that happens we can dive deeply into rectifying the systems that failed him, and map our way forward.

Tiffany Gooch is a political strategist at public affairs firms Enterprise and Ensight, secretary of the Ontario Liberal Party Executive Council, and an advocate for increased cultural and gender diversity in Canadian politics.

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Memorable story: Respect, truth key in reporting young boy’s drowning death

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As 2017 came to a close, StarPhoenix staff reflected on the stories that struck a personal chord with them this year. For Morgan Modjeski, it was getting at the truth in the chaotic hours after the tragic death of a child.

The goal of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix was to get it right.

That was what I told Hussein Elmmi a day after his five-year-old son, Ahmedsadiq Elmmi, drowned in a pond near Dundonald School. When I sat down with Hussein, the boy’s funeral had been held just a few hours earlier at the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan Mosque on Copland Crescent.

Like any father in his situation would be, Hussein was crushed. Listening to the tape of our interview three months later, I heard his quiet voice again, speaking about his family’s unfathomable loss.

Support was pouring in for them. People all over Saskatoon were heartbroken over the accident, but no one more than Hussein and his loved ones. In our interview, he said there was no adjective to describe how the death affected his family.

Their lives would never be the same, and his frustration and anger were magnified by the misinformation circulating about his boy. The hours after a tragedy are chaotic. Some reports said Ahmedsadiq was a newcomer to Canada, but as The StarPhoenix gathered more information, it became clear that was not the case.

Hussein had questions about where the information was coming from. He felt people were stereotyping his son. While the family was new to Saskatoon, his wife had been living in Prince Albert since 2000 and Ahmedsadiq was a Canadian citizen, born in Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital.

Gathering information about a person who has died is always a challenge, and never enjoyable. It’s even more difficult when the person is a child.

Various people told reporters the boy’s family was a member of three different communities in Saskatoon: the Filipino community, the Pakistani community and the Somali community.

We started to reach out to community associations on Facebook in an attempt to get more information. That’s when a representative from the Pakistani community told me the child was a member of the Somali community and his funeral was taking place as we messaged back and forth.

After speaking with my editors, we decided I should stop by the funeral to seek more information from people who knew the family directly, or to see if it was possible to speak with the boy’s parents.

It was a delicate situation, to say the least. In looking for answers, we had to be respectful.

By the time I arrived, the funeral had ended and the small casket carrying Ahmedsadiq’s body was being loaded into the back of a hearse. There was no opportunity to speak with anyone extensively, as family had already moved on to the burial site. However, a trusted contact agreed to try to get a message to the family that the paper was hoping to speak with them.

An hour or so later, the contact called and after some brief conversations, we were told the boy’s father was willing to speak with me directly. We were going to hear more about the boy from the man who raised him.

Meanwhile, people across the city were also looking for answers. Information about the death — accurate or not — was spreading. More than 480 students attend the school, and few people knew the identity of the child who had drowned. Was it a relative, the child of a friend or an acquaintance?

When such questions are swirling around, journalists are under pressure to find the truth. Without help from the people directly involved, carrying out that task borders on impossible.

Frustrated by the misinformation spreading on the social media rumour mill, Hussein and his family wanted people to know the facts about Ahmedsadiq. At a time of unimaginable stress, they chose to trust The StarPhoenix, and nothing mattered more to us than living up to that responsibility.

Ahmedsadiq’s death is still under investigation by the Saskatoon Public School Division and Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth.

mmodjeski@postmedia.com

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