A father of four says his life is in danger if Canadian authorities follow through on an order to deport him to Kenya.
Yussuf Madey Mahamed made a desperate public plea Saturday for more time to have his application to stay in Canada processed. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials earlier ordered him deported and he was unsuccessful in an appeal hearing Friday.
He is scheduled to be deported on a flight out of Edmonton Monday.
Mahamed has been in Canada since 2013 and is married to a Canadian citizen, Halima Ibrahim Ali. They have three young children together and care from a fourth daughter from Ali’s previous relationship.
“I’m hurt,” Mahamed said through a translator. “I’m going to a place where I’m sure my life is in danger. At the same time I’m leaving my family.”
Mahamed is originally from Somalia, and entered Canada using a forged Kenyan passport he purchased under the name Farah Muhamed Aballahi. In 1994, he fled war in Somalia and lived in Kenya’s Ifo refugee camp for almost 20 years.
Somali community members said it is not uncommon for people in Kenyan refugee camps to purchase local IDs and documents for safety reasons and to allow them to move around outside the camp. Others in the community have entered Canada on similar documents and were granted the right to stay after establishing they are in fact from Somalia, they said, which did not have a functioning central government between 1991 and 2012.
Ali filed an application to sponsor her husband to stay in Canada Feb. 23, 2016. The two were engaged in Kenya and married here in 2014.
Mahamed worked for a cleaning company on a work permit and is the family’s only breadwinner. He said he fears he will be thrown in jail if he returns to Kenya for having forged documents, and believes he could face violence in prison.
In a letter to CBSA’s inland enforcement branch, David Matas, Mahamed’s lawyer, asked that deportation be held off until the sponsorship application is complete, which they expect will happen soon. He wrote the CBSA has agreed to defer removals in past cases and that deferring would be in the best interests of the children.
A CBSA spokesperson said the agency would not be able to comment on the case Saturday. Canada’s immigration and refugee board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ahmed Abdulkadir, executive director of Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta Residents (OSCAR), said the group is now advocating on the family’s behalf and says several local community members who lived in Ifo can attest that Mahamed lived there as a Somali refugee.
Others who arrived on false Kenyan documents have been granted status, he said.
“They will ask before the hearing, ‘Can you prove you are Somali?’ ” Abdulkadir said. “And to do that, they come to organizations like us and we write verification letters, saying we know this individual is Somali, and we sign an affidavit … and normally that works.”
Establishing someone is Somali is important for refugee status, Abdulkadir said, adding Mahamed’s initial refugee claim was rejected over the documentation issue. In the worst-case scenario, it ensures someone is deported to the correct country (Mahamed said he would feel safer in Somalia than in Kenya).
Calgary-based immigration lawyer Raj Sharma didn’t know the specifics of the case but said CBSA removal officers don’t have much leeway on deportation orders. Exceptions include ongoing court processes to establish whether deportation places someone’s life at risk, he said.
Ali said she did not know what she would do without her husband. She said if he has to be deported, she hopes she and the children can be sent back with him to keep the family together.