FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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SLICK RICK FACING DEPORTATION…AGAIN! FEDS PRESS “VENDETTA” AGAINST BELOVED RAPPER; REFLECTION OF LARGER TREND IN U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICIES
HSAN TO RALLY PUBLIC SUPPORT AT OCT. 24 PRESS CONFERENCE
NEW YORK, N.Y. – OCTOBER 17, 2006 – More than ten years after an immigration judge first ruled that Slick Rick’s “outstanding equities” entitled the British-born rapper to remain in America despite the efforts of the federal government to deport him for committing a felony here in 1990, he is once again facing deportation.
The case has been revived by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whose predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) twice ordered the rapper deported and was twice denied by the courts. On September 21, at the urging of the DHS, the Appeals Court of the 2nd Circuit in New York overturned the decision that freed Rick from federal detention in 2003 and allowed him to resume his life and career.
The government has argued that Rick’s case should be “properly heard” in the 11th Circuit, which includes Miami, where Rick was arrested for “deporting himself” in June of 2002. Judge Kimba Wood, of New York’s 2nd Circuit, disagreed, saying that New York is the home of Rick’s family and career, and the place where he served his sentence in the early Nineties and underwent parole supervision in the late Nineties.
Nonetheless, the case has been ordered back to Florida’s 11th Circuit Court, which is markedly more conservative than the 2nd Circuit. In the meanwhile, the government has removed Rick’s status as a permanent resident and his right to leave the country. If the DHS prevails, Rick will be deported to England.
The persecution of Slick Rick is a reflection of a larger trend in U.S. immigration policy, which has become notably more punitive and less nuanced since 9/11. According to Jean Butterfield, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the government is currently deporting nearly 200,000 aliens per year, “most of whom are hardly hardened criminals. They’re breadwinners whose families are U.S. citizens — and in most cases there’s nothing a judge can do to help them.”
The problem, she says, is that “the mentality now is enforcement only. Discretion has been taken away from the judges and put in the hands of the executive branch.
It’s a damaging policy, which has not made the country safer. On the contrary, it inflicts untold hardships on our economy, our families, and our social fabric.”
A less punitive perspective would see Slick Rick as a model of self-rehabilitation. He served his sentence, underwent parole, publicly repudiates the behavior that landed him in jail, and has committed no more crimes. He makes records and tours, cares for his wife and children, owns property and pays taxes. He has made personal appearances on behalf of such charitable organizations as Mt. Vernon’s Youth Community Outreach Program and Wendy Day’s Rap Coalition.
Or, as Dr. Chavis says: “With all of the real and present threats to American society from terrorism, why is the government chasing this rapper? It’s an obscene misuse of scarce resources.”
Rick, his family, and his friends are fighting to keep him in the country he has called home since 1976. They have enlisted the help of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and its co-Chairmen, Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis. HSAN is sponsoring a press conference in support of Rick in Manhattan. The press conference will be held on the sidewalk in front of Worth Street entrance to the Federal Court Building at 500 Pearl Street on Tuesday, October 24 at 11 a.m.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chavis has already reached a verdict on the government’s campaign. “The government is conducting a vendetta against Rick and we’re not going to stand for it,” he says.
This is the latest dire twist in a legal battle that spans more than a dozen years. (See attached release: “The U.S. Versus Slick Rick.”)
For more information on Slick Rick and the case, please contact Bill Adler at 212 645 0061 or Mandy Aragones (Rick’s wife) at 917 922 9122.