HALIFAX -- A Federal Court will hear a request to temporarily stop the deportation of former Somali child refugee Abdoul Abdi this week, according to his lawyer.
Abdi, who never got Canadian citizenship while growing up in foster care in Nova Scotia, was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency after serving five years in prison for multiple offences, including aggravated assault.
Abdi's lawyer, Benjamin Perryman, said federal officials are pushing for a deportation hearing to go forward, after turning down the 24-year-old's request to have the process put on hold while he pursues a constitutional challenge.
"A deportation order automatically strips Mr. Abdi of his permanent resident status, including the right to work and the right to health care," Perryman said in a statement Sunday.
"Mr. Abdi argues he will be irreparably harmed if he is stripped of his rights before having the merits of his court case decided."
Perryman added that Abdi risks being returned to prison if he loses his job, saying that working is a condition of his release to a halfway house in the Toronto area last month.
The lawyer said the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has been asked to proceed with a deportation hearing, which he said will inevitably lead to a deportation order given the circumstances of Abdi's case.
Perryman said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has the authority to temporarily halt the government's attempts to deport Abdi, but has refused to do so.
A spokesperson for Goodale declined to comment on the Abdi case for privacy reasons. Scott Bardsley said the minister is not involved in the decision-making process for individual removals, instead delegating that authority to the Canada Border Services Agency.
Bardsley said the minister does have the power to postpone a removal, but only uses it in exceptional cases where time is a significant factor.
Ultimately, Bardsley said, only Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada can determine whether individuals receive permanent or temporary residency in Canada.
Perryman said a court hearing on Abdi's request for a temporary stop of the deportation process will be held in Halifax on Thursday.
He said Abdi's constitutional challenge is still in its early stages, and a Federal Court has not yet decided whether there will be a full hearing.