The Limits of Politesse

More than 200 signatures have found their way to a petition by the Somali community, asking the government to reconsider the deportation of 26 year-old Abadir Ali. Ali, who has lived in Canada since the age of 8, is being ordered to return to Somalia after pursuing a life of crime in Canada. The Somali community and Ali’s representatives contend that a return to Somalia is a death sentence for the young man. The government contends that Ali poses a risk to the safety of the community.

Canada is frequently, and quite often falsely, seen as a paragon of conscience and manners. Our immigration policies frequently admit refugees from foreign conflicts, and we are known for offering safe haven for people fleeing a troubled homeland. But, when one such person pays Canadian generosity back by becoming a criminal burden on society, how far should our compassion really go?

I want to immediately state, for the record, that I have absolutely no problem with a healthy and robust immigration policy. I am a staunch believer that we are all immigrants to a country that was stolen from the natives. Some will argue “No I’m not, I was born here,” but that’s like saying that if you break into someone’s home and have a child there, the child belongs in that home. I know there have been more than a few generations between us and our ancestors, but I also know that we have and continue to treat natives deplorably. If we are to see ourselves as the generous and good people that we claim to be, we can’t outright deny entry to foreigners because they are “other.” Immigration built this country and, while not perfect, is an important aspect of our economy. To not recognize that is to be ignorantly exclusionary for the sake of some misguided and prejudiced emotional position.

I do believe that an immigrant to this country owes something to the country that has taken them in. I was an immigrant to the United States, and I felt strongly that I should contribute to the society that had adopted me, or at least work to make sure that I was not a burden. It’s perfectly rational to argue that immigrants to Canada should learn to speak the language in order to communicate effectively, and should adopt and obey the laws of our land. I don’t believe that people should feel they need to abandon their culture or customs, so long as they are not forcing them on others and so long as they are not in opposition to our rules and laws. Otherwise, it’s important that every effort be made to find gainful employment, earn an education, and stay off of social assistance. Under these circumstances, immigration is far from a detriment to our nation. In fact, under these circumstances immigration is critical to our success as a country.

Abadir Ali moved here from a troubled and dangerous homeland at the age of 8, and has since been in constant trouble with the law. His official criminal record began at the age of 19 after a troubled childhood, and documents convictions for assault, obstruction of a police officer, and a warning in 2006 that he would be deported if he didn’t straighten up and stop his criminal activities.

Ali is currently jailed for a brutal assault on a young woman while he was drunk and high, a beating that left his victim with permanent injuries.

Having ignored the warning, Ali is now facing deportation to Somalia because federal immigration officials have deemed him to be a danger to the Canadian public, which seems pretty obvious. We’re not talking about petty crimes or shoplifting, here. We’re talking about aggravated assault and confrontations with police. Hell, the beating he is in jail for came after he was warned further criminal acts would get his ass kicked out of the country. That’s pretty open and shut.

But, the Somalian community and Ali’s lawyer contend that he should be given a chance to rehabilitate himself here in Canada, where he’s safer. A return to Somalia could mean death for a western-minded young man born of an inter-clan marriage.

Maybe the dumb asshole should have thought about that a little before beating a young woman savagely and viciously.

Why should we give Ali, not a chance, but another chance? This isn’t his first conviction. He’s been in trouble with the law multiple times, more than once for assault. You could say this is a “three strikes and you’re out” situation, only it really means out, as in “out of the country.” Nothing this punk has done has demonstrated that he has any value to society, and in fact his actions demonstrate clearly that not only is he a burden, but a cancer. Drugs, drinking, violence and crime are spit in the eye of the country that welcomed him and offered him a new, safe home. Given the very real threat of violence, poverty and death in Ali’s Somalian homeland, you would think there would be ample motivation to make sure that he could stay. Instead, he seemed to care so little for his circumstances as to shit all over our generosity and compassion and give a majestic single-fingered salute to the warning we offered.

Here’s a salute right back at ‘ya.

This isn’t about compassion or generosity. Neither is it about all immigrants being a burden. Compassion has its limits, and immigrants often demonstrate gratitude for our welcome by becoming good members of our society. It’s just that we tend to only notice the human excrement who don’t fall into that category. It would be a shameful act on our part to paint all immigrants with the same labels and treat them all the same for the sins of the minority, but it would also be disgraceful for us to not uphold the law that govern our country and protect the safe and peaceful society that attracts the weak and weary.

Is sending Abadir Ali back to Somalia dangerous, cruel and wrong? I would fully ackowledge that it’s dangerous; he very well might be killed in a society that has a more violent intolerance for difference than ours has. Cruel? Wrong? I don’t think so. We gave him a chance, more than one in fact, and he burned each of them.

At the end of the day, you have to know when to pull the plug.


Ottawa Citizen: “Ordered to Somalia after a life in Canada”

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1 comment so far

Perhaps the best editorial on this story yet seen.

December 22nd, 2010 at 3:10 am

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