TORONTO – A former Somali child refugee will have to wait two weeks to find out whether his deportation hearing will proceed, an adjudicator ruled Wednesday.
At an immigration hearing in Toronto, a lawyer for Abdoul Abdi argued that the hearing should be put on hold pending the outcome of a judicial review of the case.
A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Refugee Board said the decision maker, Mary Heyes, reserved her ruling until March 21.
Abdi, 24, grew up in foster care in Nova Scotia but was never granted Canadian citizenship. He was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency after serving five years in prison for multiple offences, including aggravated assault, which made him subject to deportation.
The hearing scheduled for Wednesday — to confirm the non-citizen was guilty of serious criminality that precludes his staying in Canada — came after a Federal Court judge rejected a bid to delay the deportation process.
Andrew Brouwer, who represented Abdi at the hearing, said he hoped the government would do the right thing and either end the deportation action or allow the judicial review to be decided first.
“Given that the (review) questions the legality of the decision that gives the immigration division jurisdiction, we’re saying, ‘Hold, off, let’s see whether this should even have been referred to you before you go and render any kind of decision’,” Brouwer said.
A government representative opposed the postponement and urged Heyes to go ahead and issue a removal order, Brouwer said.
The pending judicial review application — Federal Court granted leave on Tuesday and set a hearing for May 29 — seeks to challenge the government’s second decision to refer the matter for an admissibility hearing.
The government’s previous decision was overturned by Federal Court in October 2017 and a new ruling, the one now subject to challenge, was made in January 2018.
The judicial review application alleges the government’s second decision was procedurally unfair, unreasonably assessed relevant factors, and ignored Abdi’s international law and charter arguments — which extend from the fact the state was his parent and did not apply for citizenship on his behalf, said Abdi’s Nova Scotia lawyer, Benjamin Perryman.
Supporters of Abdi, including his sister Fatuma Abdi, have pressed the Nova Scotia government to intervene on his behalf.
“I think that it is really unfair of the government to deport my brother, all because the Department of Community Services failed both of us on getting our Canadian citizenship,” Fatuma Abdi said recently. “They are not taking responsibility for it and that angers me on his behalf.”
Sociologist Robert Wright said there should be a review of the treatment of black children and immigrants in Nova Scotia’s child welfare system.
Abdi, who was born in Saudi Arabia in 1993, lost his mother in a refugee camp when he was four and came to Canada with his sister and aunts at age six. He was taken into provincial care shortly after arriving in Canada.
He was moved 31 times between foster homes. He lost his native language and developed behavioural problems that advocates say were not adequately treated. Those issues led to problems with the justice system and his non-citizenship put him at risk of deportation.