The Canadian government says it will no longer pursue the deportation of a former refugee from Somalia, who was a ward of the Nova Scotia government since childhood.
The case of Abdoul Abdi galvanized a coalition of supporters including refugee advocates, youth protection workers and legal experts, who pointed to the ways in which the system had failed the young man.
Last week a judge stopped Abdi's case from going to a deportation hearing, and sent it back for further review. On Tuesday night, Canada's Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale went a step further, tweeting that the government would abandon Abdi's deportation. His supporters are elated.
Abdi, 25, migrated to Nova Scotia with his aunts and sister when he was six years old, after spending the first few years of his life in Saudi Arabia and a refugee camp in Djibouti.
Less than a year after coming to Canada, Abdi was placed into government care. From there, he was moved from one foster home to the next, bouncing around between 30 different homes. During his time in foster care, the Nova Scotia government never applied for citizenship on his behalf.
That became a crucial oversight after Abdi, pleaded guilty in 2014 to aggravated assault and assaulting a police officer, and served time in jail.
That sentence prompted immigration authorities to pursue his deportation — a consequence that would never have been possible if he had been a citizen.
Although he’s never lived in Somalia, doesn't speak its language nor have any family there, the Canadian government planned to deport him there because that’s his mother’s place of birth.
Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald wrote in a decision on Friday that the delegate for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness had not considered that the facts in Abdi’s case were “particular and unique”.
McDonald also wrote that the order to send Abdi to a deportation hearing is neither “justified, transparent and intelligible” and failed to properly assess his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. His lawyers also argued that his deportation is not in keeping with Canada's obligations under international law.
The judge has sent Abdi’s case back to be heard again by a different minister’s delegate. This is the second time the federal court has stopped the case from going to a deportation hearing — the first time was in 2017 when the judge found that the minister’s delegate had relied on youth records.