Somali-Canadian drug trafficker asks to be deported to country he’s never seen

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

You know who K'naan is, right? The Somali-Canadian rapper's Wavin' Flag became the theme song of the 2010 Football World Cup.

But his success story contrasts sharply with the tragic arc many other young Somali-Canadian men follow.

It could hardly get sadder than the story of Saeed Jama, who faces deportation this week to Somalia, a homeland he's never seen.

According to the Globe and Mail, Jama will be put on a plane to the war-torn African country after serving prison time for drug trafficking, thanks to the Conservative government's tough-on-crime policies.

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But Jama has never set foot in Somalia. He was the child of Somali refugees, born in Saudi Arabia and arriving in Canada with his parents, brothers and sisters.

Jama is part of a generation of lost young Somali men who could not make legitimate go of life in Canada, people who fellow Somalis call "children of the snow," neither fully Somali or fully Canadian.

They drift into crime and, according to a Globe article last June, dozens have been killed, casualties of drug wars in Alberta and Toronto.

After he was released from prison last June, Jama was ordered to report to Edmonton's airport July 22 for deportation. He didn't show up even though his family was there to see him off, the Globe said.

Jama was finally arrested Oct. 31 when he, his younger brother and another man were pulled over in a dodgy part of Edmonton closely watched by police. Jama tried to lie about his identity but the 23-year-old's past was quickly revealed — four criminal convictions.

Jama claimed he had been working at a legitimate job in a warehouse since evading deportation but police turned up information on his mobile phone that Canada Border Services Agency argued were "consistent with a drug trafficker," the Globe said.

At a court appearance after his arrest, Jama surprised federal officials by saying he didn't mind "going back home."

"Can you guys just send me back home to Somalia?" he said.

Bashir Ahmed, a leader of Edmonton's Somali community who had previously met Jama, said that's where the young man should go.

"It's a very sad case and I'm very disappointed," Ahmed told the Globe. "If he'd have followed our advice, he would have gone peaceful [at the airport]. He would not affect his brother. He'd have a chance to come back to Canada. I wish him all the best, but it's up to Immigration."

Federal officials told the Globe that Jama faces no significant risk in Somalia. But the paper noted Canada does not deport people to Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq or Zimbabwe.

Jama's family, who obtained Canadian residency in 2001, have appealed to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews for a last-minute stay of deportation, the Globe said.

"I am really sad, emotional, because if he goes I won't know about him," his mother, Khadro Mohamed, told the Globe.

Jama's older brother was also deported and now lives in Ethiopia. His younger brother remains in custody after lying to police about Saeed's name during the traffic stop that resulted in their arrest. The Jama family's daughters, by contrast, have thrived in Canada.

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Saeed Jama himself seems unfazed by his fate. He hoped he would be allowed to stay but in a jailhouse interview with the Globe suggested he might try to sneak back into Canada.

"It's not hard to come back — I'm talking about illegally," he said, adding where else would he go?