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In 1996, shortly after Republicans took control of Congress, new draconian immigration laws were enforced that encourage authorities to deport convicted criminals to their native country, even if the individual is a legal resident. The law is xenophobic at its core. In fact, US-born citizens are five times as likely to go to prison than those born elsewhere. But after 9/11, the deportation frenzy intensified. In total, over 700,000 immigrants have been removed from the States since 1997, even for misdemeanor offenses or basic civil immigration violations.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) runs their own detainment facilities, which are often outsourced to private companies who have a financial incentive to keep the beds filled. And while inhumane conditions are rampant, coverage is rarely given due to its low-profile residents. But the recent case of celebrity rapper, Shyne—born in Belize but raised in Brooklyn—has pushed the immigration dilemma to the fore-front of pop-culture dialogue. Shyne isn't the first celebrity to face threats of deportation. Here's a brief look back...


Marcus Garvey, 1927
The Feds always had their eye on Garvey, looking for a loophole to deport him from the States. After he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and made headlines by speaking to 25,000 people at Madison Square Garden, his critics intensified their plot. In November 1919, authorities charged Garvey with mail fraud surrounding his Black Star Line shipping corporation. While there were some accounting irregularities within the company, it was clearly a politically-motivated case. He was convicted and spent two years of a five-year sentence before being deported to Jamaica where he continued his international movement. 

Paul McCartney, 1980
Sir Paul McCartney has been a stoner for quite some time. While passing through customs in Tokyo, officials found over seven ounces of weed in his luggage. Damn, homie. His celebrity status spared him from a potential seven-year bid, but he spent 10 days in the Tokyo bing before deportation back to England. He was again arrested for weed possession in 1984.

Charlize Theron, 1994
The South African actress had a hectic upbringing. A year after witnessing her mother shoot her abusive father to death, Theron won a local modeling competition and got to travel abroad. While in the US, she produced a documentary called East Of Havana, which criticized America's relations with Cuba. She later claimed that her involvement with the piece landed her on the government's enemies-list and she was subsequently deported back home at age 19. Theron eventually become a US citizen in 2007.

Slick Rick, 2002
After serving over five years in prison for attempted murder, The Ruler faced another 11-year battle against threats of deportation to his native England. The US authorities had been obsessively on his trail and eventually nabbed him in 2002 when he boarded a docked Caribbean cruise ship. Despite spending a year in a Florida INS facility, deportation lingered over his head until NY Gov. Paterson issued a rare unconditional pardon. "We don't cause trouble, we don't bother nobody."

Yusuf Islam, 2004
The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens was on a plane from his hometown, London, to Washington, where he planned to meet Dolly Parton. While in flight, custom agents alerted authorities that his name popped up on the murky no-fly list. Fearing that the creator of "Peace Train" was in fact a violent terrorist, the plane was diverted to Maine and he was immediately deported back to the UK. After diplomatic protests, and even a successful libel case against British tabloids, the British singer was eventually allowed back into the US.

Shyne, 2009
This is foul. Just when the former-Bad Bay artist thought he was returning home after serving nine years, the ICE moved in to prolong his ordeal. Similar to the Slick Rick case, officials are thirsty to make an example of the Brooklyn-raised rapper and send him back to his birth nation. Despite pleas from Belize's Prime Minister, who also happens to be his dad, it looks like Shyne may have more hurdles to jump before he re-enters the land of the "free".