Edmonton father gets last-minute reprieve from deportation to Kenya
EDMONTON—Three hours before Yussuf Mahamed was due to board a plane and be deported to Kenya, the phone at the Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta Residents office rang Monday afternoon with news of a last-minute reprieve.
It was Canadian Immigration and Border Services officials calling to let Mahamed and his family know that the father of four had been granted a stay and another year in Canada.
“I feel very excited. I am very so happy. I am thankful for all (those in) Canada who supported me,” Mahamed’s wife, Halima Ali, told StarMetro.
She said she was very thankful for the community members who had been working since Friday, launching a petition and calling local politicians, to make sure her husband stayed in the country.
Mahamed, who has lived in Edmonton since 2013, was facing deportation because he says he entered the country with forged documents from Kenya, despite the fact that he is originally from Somalia.
Mahamed, 41, had previously told StarMetro his life was in danger if he was sent to Kenya. He fled the war in Somalia in 1994 and ended up in a Kenyan refugee camp, where he lived for almost 20 years.
He says obtaining illegal documents was the only way to travel around the camp, and it was those documents he used when he immigrated to Canada in 2013.
When he was ordered deported, the Edmonton Somali community sprang into action, creating online petitions and calling local politicians to halt Mahamed’s deportation.
Since arriving in Canada, he married Ali, who is a Canadian citizen. Together, they have four children, and Mahamed is the sole breadwinner.
Mahamed applied for permanent residency through his wife, but last week the government put its foot down on his stay and ordered his deportation for June 4.
Mahamed met Ali in the refugee camp. She came to Canada in 2006 and received her citizenship in 2014.
During that time, Mahamed obtained a fake Kenyan passport under the name Farah Aballahi and moved to Canada in 2013.
In Canada, he appealed for refugee status, which was denied, despite making several appeals. In 2015, his removal order came into force, which meant he had 30 days to leave the country. Around that time, he applied for permanent residency through his wife.
Mahamed said he was told the process would take two years, but three years later, he has heard nothing back.
His lawyer, Nalini Reddy, said that because he did not leave the country after the 30 days, his removal order turned into a deportation order, although it was delayed for a number of reasons.
Reddy says on April 26, officials with the Canada Border Services Agency ordered him to be deported on June 4. Reddy made an appeal on Friday, but it was unsuccessful.
Mahamed says his concern was being sent to a country where he doesn’t belong.
“I’m from Somalia,” Mahamed said.
“If they are going to return me to any place, they should return me to Somalia and let me die in that place rather than dying in Kenya.”
Kashmala Fida is an Edmonton-based reporter covering City Hall and diversity. Follow her on Twitter: @KashFida