On Halloween, Slick Rick got a treat. A U.S. District Court judge reinstated the legendary MC's U.S. residency and ruled that he not be deported to England, where he was born.
"I cant wait to see Rick's face, I can't wait to just touch him," Rick's wife, Mandy Aragones Walters, said Monday (November 3).
Rick, born Ricky Walters, has been detained in Bradenton, Florida, since June 2002 in an ongoing struggle with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. According to U.S. immigration law, any noncitizen who serves more than five years in prison for a felony conviction is automatically deported, and Walters served five years and 12 days in prison in 1996 for an attempted-murder rap.
Friday's ruling is the latest development in a back and forth between the man hip-hop fans call "The Ruler" and the INS. Twice before they tried to send him back to England, where he spent the first 11 years of his life (see "Judge Puts Last-Minute Hold On Slick Rick's Deportation").
"Crazy, happy, excited, relieved, grateful — all those feelings all at once," Mandy said of how the family was feeling now that the decision has been rendered. "This is the victory of all victories. Thank God. Hopefully it's over. I'm grateful the judge can understand why we were fighting."
Mandy Walters said despite the ordeal, her husband is in good spirits.
"Rick is strong. He's handled this whole immigration thing pretty well. From what I've seen, he just seems like he's holding up pretty well. His mind is together, he's been really positive. He didn't have to fight this case. He could have easily gone to England and been a free man. He decided to stay here and fight."
Last year Rick said he wanted to fight deportation because he had nothing in England. All of his family members are U.S. citizens. He said being sent to the U.K. would be "inhumane."
So was his incarceration, Mandy Walters said. "No one's been able to physically touch him or hug him. You visit him [and he's behind] glass. No music, no magazines, no newspapers for Rick. It's not like a real facility. He was technically an [illegal] alien. There's no accommodation made for illegal aliens. It's harder than people realize. The conditions there were disgusting. Rick really has been through too, too much."
But Rick's family members aren't looking to fight any more with the INS. They just want him home for the holidays.
"Thanksgiving is coming up, Christmas is coming up, he has a birthday in January — it would make no sense for him to miss these holidays again," Mandy Walters said. "Nobody knows how I feel. It's been a very hard fight for all of us. I'm happy for him and I miss him. I miss him hardcore."
The fight is not over just yet. Rick remains in the detention center with no official release date and the possibility of an INS appeal of the judge's decision. Representatives for the agency could not be reached for comment.