La Di Da Di: Governor Paterson Pardons Slick Rick!

Here's some news to make that Memorial Day BBQ that much sweeter: The Ruler's back and it looks like he's here to stay.

Governor Paterson has pardoned Ricky Walters. Who? The Grand Wizard aka MC Ricky D aka Slick Rick aka The Ruler. Not frosted flakes.

"Mr. Walters has fully served the sentence imposed upon him for his convictions, had an exemplary disciplinary record while in prison and on parole, and has been living without incident in the community for more than 10 years,” said Governor Paterson in a statement. “In that time, he has volunteered at youth outreach programs to counsel youth against violence, and has become a symbol of rehabilitation for many young people. Given these demonstrated rehabilitative efforts, I urge federal immigration officials to once again grant Mr. Walters relief from deportation, so that he is not separated from his many family members who are United States citizens, including his two teenage children.”

If you're not familiar with Ricky's immigration troubles check out Chisun Lee's "Slick Rick's Alien Rap":

"We got a knock on the cabin door, and it was the INS officers," the rapper, formally known as Ricky Walters, told the Voice last Thursday in his first interview from detention. A British native who came to the U.S. legally at age 11 but never bothered to obtain citizenship, he is charged, according to an INS document, with having "self-deported" and illegally re-entered the U.S. by working the cruise. The agency is seeking to deport him and refuses to release him on bond while legal action unfolds, which could take months.

The pardon won't make all of Slick Rick's immigration troubles go away just yet, but should allow the rapper to finally extricate himself from his ongoing immigration nightmare.

Some more background from the governor's press release:

Mr. Walters faces deportation under a federal statute that mandates the removal of a lawful resident alien upon conviction of an aggravated felony or a weapon offense. For certain offenses removal can be avoided by a Governor’s pardon, but for weapon offenses, even after receiving a pardon, a non-citizen must seek discretionary relief from deportation from the immigration court. Mr. Walters was granted such relief by an immigration court in 1995, but that decision was later vacated because the Board of Immigration Appeals issued its decision 33 days after the expiration of a statutory deadline. Mr. Walters has been unable to re-apply for discretionary adjustment of his immigration status because of his attempted murder convictions, but he will be eligible to do so as a result of the Governor’s pardon.

In 1991, Mr. Walters pleaded guilty in Bronx County Supreme Court to two counts of attempted murder and eight weapons offenses arising from an incident in which Walters shot his cousin and an innocent bystander, both of whom survived the shooting. Walters’ cousin had made previous threats against Walters, and Walters believed his cousin had arranged at least one previous attempt on his life. Mr. Walters, who was 25 years old at the time of the incident, was sentenced to a term of 3⅓ to 10 years in prison. He was released to parole in 1997, and was discharged from parole supervision in 2000.

In June 1995, an immigration judge terminated deportation proceedings against Walters and granted him a waiver of inadmissibility and an adjustment of status that allowed Walters to remain in this country despite his convictions. The judge’s decision was based on, among other things, the “unusual and outstanding equities” of his case. Later that year, the Board of Immigration Appeals found that this relief “appears to be in the best interest of the country,” but the Board later vacated its decision on a technical ground – that it had no authority to act because on the day of its decision, Walters had served five years and 33 days in prison, 33 days more than statutorily permitted for a waiver of inadmissibility. Walters’ legal challenges to this decision have been unsuccessful, and he could soon be deported, unless the immigration courts agree to reconsider his request for adjustment of status in light of the Governor’s pardon.

Mr. Walters, who is now 43 years old, has lived in the Bronx without incident since his release from prison in 1997. He is presently employed as a landlord and rap musician. Mr. Walters has a wife and two children, all of whom are American citizens.


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