A former child refugee from Somalia will face a deportation hearing on Wednesday that will determine his future in Canada — a country he’s called home for the vast majority of his life — less than 24 hours after a court agreed to a hearing that could upend the entire case.
Abdoul Abdi, 24, could be ordered deported to his native Somalia by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET in Toronto and comes after a judge rejected a bid to temporarily delay the process as a constitutional challenge makes its way through the courts.
The court will consider aspects of the case that the IRB cannot, including Abdi’s experiences in the Nova Scotia childcare system and his bleak prospects in Somalia, Perryman told CBC News.
“There’s going to be a full hearing on the merits of his case,” he said.
Perryman said earlier he expected his client would be ordered deported because the IRB is not allowed to consider such things.
“If the deportation hearing proceeds tomorrow, there’s going to be multiple simultaneous proceedings going on at the same time. If Mr. Abdi is ultimately successful in Federal Court … it will undo all those proceedings,” said Perryman.
“I think there is a strong case here for the [Minister of Public Safety] to press pause on the deportation process,” he added.
If the court rules in Abdi’s favour, a deportation order from the IRB would be invalidated and Abdi would retain his status as a permanent resident, Perryman said. The government would have the option, however, of restarting the deportation process.
Abdi was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) earlier this year after serving nearly five years in prison for multiple offences, including aggravated assault.
Supporters argue more should be done for Abdi, who arrived in Nova Scotia at age six with his sister and aunts but landed in the care of the province soon after.
He was shuffled between foster homes 31 times throughout his childhood and Nova Scotia’s Department of Community Services never applied for him to become a citizen. His criminal past, together with his lack of citizenship, are the grounds for the would-be deportation.
His sister, Fatouma, has said there’s nothing in Somalia for her brother. She said he doesn’t speak the language and has no family there.
According to the CBSA, between 2015 and Feb. 26, 2018, Canada has deported 31 people to Somalia, a war-torn country considered to be very dangerous.
On its travel site, the federal government warns Canadians not to visit Somalia because the “security situation” is “extremely volatile and the threat of domestic terrorism is high.”
Abdi has been living in a Toronto halfway house since his release in January from immigration detention.