Somali-Canadians celebrate Ahmed Hussen's appointment as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister

Michelle Cheung, CBC News, Jan 11, 2017

Toronto's Ahmed Hussen was the first Somali-Canadian to become a federal Member of Parliament, and now many in the GTA's Somali community are celebrating as York South-Weston Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen has broken another barrier: he's been appointed as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

"It's a really great thing to happen to our community," said Mahad Yusef, the executive director of the Somali Immigrant Aid Association. "It's something that we really needed, not just for the Somali community, but for the whole black community."

Hussen, 41, knows the challenging path to citizenship first-hand; he came to Canada as a 16-year-old refugee from Somalia in 1993.

Hussen told reporters in Ottawa, "I'll bring my experience as an immigrant to Canada but also as an immigration lawyer — someone who worked many, many years before running for office as a community activist, a community organizer and a community advocate."

When asked if the idea of immigration and taking in refugees is something that needs defending these days in light of the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. and the Brexit vote in Britain, Hussen said Canada is showing the way when it comes to welcoming immigrants.

"I'm extremely proud of the fact that Canadians have always been welcoming to others, people who've sought asylum and ... we've been the better for it. The story of Canada is the story of immigration."

Mahad Yusef agrees that Hussen's roots in the city's Somali community will be useful in his ministerial duties.

"Ahmed will share his knowledge and expertise and his lived experience. He understands the challenges. He understands the opportunities and he's been, for many years, advocating for immigration issues," said Yusef, who has known Hussen since he settled in Canada. "My feeling is our community is honoured that we have representation in cabinet."

Before jumping into politics Hussen was a lawyer, political activist and the national president of the Canadian Somali Congress.

He was also appointed by former prime minister Steven Harper to the Cross Cultural Roundtable on Security — a post he held until 2012. The roundtable was established to create a dialogue between Canadians and the federal government on matters related to national security and the federal government. The roundtable reported to the minister responsible for crafting Bill C-51, the controversial anti-terrorism bill.

That concerns Hawa Mire, a Somali community organizer who lives in Hussen's riding. She's worried that Hussen was involved in creating legislation or policies that negatively impact Somalis in Canada.

"This particular person, who we're holding up as a representation of our community, has also been engaged in programs and practices that are deeply destructive to the most vulnerable in our community," she told CBC Toronto.

This Nigger is on the very fast track to become Prime Minister

A year ago:

Canada's New Immigration Kang, back in April, 2016:

"Asylum seekers are not criminals." Ahmed Hussen, Somali Canadian MP, addressed the recent death of migrants from Somalia and the Horn of Africa before the Canadian Parliament. Ahmed Hussen received stand ovation for his compassion.

Canada's New Immigration Kang, back in 2010

Canadian Somali Congress president on the successes and challenges of the Canadian Somali community

"Canadian Somali Congress President interviewed by Nil Koksal of CBC News as part of a television series entitled "Canadian Dream." The series examines the successes and challenges that face different communities in Canada. This particular segment centered on the successes and challenges of the Canadian Somali community. The vast majority of Somalis in Canada are no longer immigrants but are Canadian citizens. Despite this fact, various levels of government and the mainstream community mistakenly continue to view Canadian Somalis as immigrants or recently-arrived refugees. This is evidenced by the fact that emphasis is placed on immigrant settlement services and language programs for a community that settled in this country decades ago. The real need of the community is integration into the Canadian mainstream. This can be achieved by a policy shift that emphasizes access to jobs and professions. Nowhere is this shift more needed than in Alberta where 30 young Canadian Somalis have been killed in the last 5 years. Despite the high number of deaths in Alberta, Ahmed Hussen noted that the vast majority of Canadian Somali youth are law abiding and productive citizens who are graduating from post-secondary institutions in record numbers."

Canada's New Immigration Kang, back in 2012:

Canadian Somali Congress testimony before the Canadian Parliament on the issue of deportations

"Canadian Somali Congress National President, Ahmed Hussen, testifies before the Citizenship and Immigration Committee of the Canadian Parliament on the issue of Bill C-43 and deportations. The Canadian Somali Congress wants changes to this proposed law because it contains provisions that will lead to the deportations of hundreds of long-term residents that make one mistake. These permanent residents could potentially include many who have made positive contributions to their community. It is a one strike and you are out rule. First, this bill would limit the right of permanent residents to make an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division regarding their deportations if they are sentenced to a period of six months or more for a criminal offence. The current law allows for an automatic right of appeal for sentences of two years less a day. Second, Bill C-43 would not distinguish between jail sentences and conditional sentences that are served in the community and that tend to take a longer period of time to complete. Third, Bill C-43 will drastically curb ministerial discretion in humanitarian and compassionate cases. Finally, the hundreds of deportations that will result from the implementation of Bill C-43 will make it harder to distinguish between long term residents that have roots in the community and a foreign national that arrived in Canada a few months ago."

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