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Walters, still in jail, awaits word on deportation dispute

October 25, 2003|From Associated Press

In a Florida jail cell, fighting his deportation, Ricky "Slick Rick" Walters counts the days. The Hip-Hop Hall of Fame inductee is into his 17th month behind bars, with no end in sight despite legal efforts and appeals from such friends as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Since his June 2002 jailing, Walters has awaited word on whether he'll face deportation to his birthplace of England.

Walters' supporters have called for the rap star's release pending resolution of his case. Others believe he is a victim of the government's post-Sept. 11 immigration crackdown.

"Fear and anger are the motivating forces in the government campaign against immigrants' rights," said hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, whose Def Jam label released Waters' 1988 album "The Adventures of Slick Rick."

"I'm not a politician or a lawyer," Walters said by phone from a federal detention facility in Bradenton, Fla. "I can just speculate on the reason. But I'll put it out to the public: Somebody waiting for months on a yes or no question, and there's no answer?"

In 2002, Walters, now 38, left Florida for a weeklong performance gig on a cruise ship. He was arrested upon returning to port.

The INS wanted Walters deported under a 1996 law calling for the exile of foreigners convicted of "aggravated felonies." Walters did five years on a 1991 attempted murder conviction after shooting his cousin and a bystander, claiming the cousin had extorted money and threatened the rapper's family.

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