Slick Rick to Be Released

Rapper won't be deported

One and a half years after "Slick Rick" Walters was jailed for immigrations violations, the rapper's release was ordered by a U.S. District Court Judge and his deportation was halted.

Judge Kimba Wood reinstated a 1995 waiver that allowed Walters to remain in the country despite having been convicted of a felony (an attempted murder charge from 1991, for which he served more than three years in prison). U.S. law specifies that foreign nationals who commit crimes must be deported, but due to Walters' family, business and career -- all rooted in the U.S. rather than England (where he was born) -- the ruling permitted him to stay. The Bureau of Immigration Affairs tried to overrule that ruling in 1997, a decision which Judge Wood said denied Walters due process.

Walters had been on a Caribbean cruise in the summer of 2002. Upon his return on June 1st of that year, he was arrested for illegally re-entering the country. He made four requests for bail, but INS declared him a flight risk and he spent the next eighteen months in a Bradenton, Florida, jail. Last December, he was to be deported, but Wood intervened.

"I am grateful that the judge stopped my deportation," Walters said just last week. "I totally understand that homeland security is going through changes. But this back and forth with INS is unfair."

Walters credits his last release with allowing him to get his life back in order after the 1991 conviction. "It was heaven for me," he said. "I was able to return home and be with my kids. I got married, and put the pieces of my life back together again. I was proud and grateful and enjoying my freedom."

With this release, Walters will again rejoin his family, but this time out he'll have a different set of issues with which to deal. Two weeks ago, a North Carolina man was arrested just outside of Walters' Bronx, New York, home. The man, Steven Glenn, had been arrested previously in North Carolina on charges of identity and mail fraud, after attempting to co-opt Walters' identity while he was in prison. No charges had been filed against Glenn in New York, but last week he was being held at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center for observation.