Will Smith has come to the defense of fellow rapper "Slick Rick" Walters, who could face deportation from the U.S. because he was convicted of attempted murder 11 years ago.

Will Smith has come to the defense of fellow rapper "Slick Rick" Walters, who could face deportation from the U.S. because he was convicted of attempted murder 11 years ago. "I have known Rick for over 15 years," Smith wrote in a letter to the Immigration and Naturalization Service that was cited Saturday by the Los Angeles Times. "While I'm aware of his past problems, I've also had the pleasure to watch him develop into a good person."

Comedian Chris Rock, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and New York state Sen. David Paterson also have lent their support, the Times reported.

Walters, 37, is a legal resident but not a U.S. citizen. He served more than five years in prison for a 1991 shooting in New York, and U.S. law requires the deportation of any non-citizen who serves more than five years in a U.S. prison. The British-born rapper was arrested by immigration officials last month in Miami aboard a cruise ship that had hired him to perform. He is in custody in Florida pending an immigration hearing.

"I don't believe I'm a bad person," he told the newspaper. "The whole incident was years ago. I've been out and six years crime-free. All this now seems like an extreme measure."


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