Pharcyde producer J-Sw!ft stuck in Vancouver, fears deportation to Spain

Rapper/producer Juan Martinez (better known as J-Sw!ft from hip-hop group the Pharcyde), is currently stuck in Vancouver and facing deportation to Spain. (Jimmy Jeong For the Globe and Mail)

Rapper/producer Juan Martinez (better known as J-Sw!ft from hip-hop group the Pharcyde), is currently stuck in Vancouver and facing deportation to Spain. (Jimmy Jeong For the Globe and Mail)

ANDREA WOO – VANCOUVER

A California music producer who has been stuck in British Columbia for two months fears he may soon be deported to his birth country of Spain, despite not having lived there in more than 40 years.

Juan Martinez – best known for his work with esteemed Los Angeles hip-hop group the Pharcyde, under the stage name J-Sw!ft – has been in the province since mid-January, when he performed a reunion show with the Pharcyde in Vancouver. When he tried returning home on Jan. 15, U.S. customs officials turned him away.

Mr. Martinez’s legal standing in the United States is complicated. The 43-year-old was born in Spain but moved to California at age 2, becoming a permanent resident. He says he didn’t realize until his mid-30s that he did not hold U.S. citizenship.

That decade, Mr. Martinez struggled with homelessness and substance abuse – issues, he said, that were compounded by family health issues and the dissolution of his marriage. He was arrested several times for drug possession, though those arrests never precluded him from international travel.

His situation now centres largely on a 2012 arrest for drug possession that triggered deportation proceedings. Mr. Martinez filed an appeal and departed for a nine-country European tour with the Pharcyde, which concluded without issue.

After a one-off show in Vancouver in January, Mr. Martinez says a U.S. customs official at Vancouver International Airport refused him re-entry, saying that the terms of his appeal had required that he remain in the United States. He spent four days in jail.

“They claimed that by travelling out of the country, I had abandoned my appeal,” Mr. Martinez said. “But that’s not true. I had travelled to nine countries in Europe on appeal.”

Continue reading at The Globe and Mail.

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