21 Savage was arrested in Atlanta and detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday as part of an operation targeting his cousin (and fellow Atlanta rapper) Young Nudy. The federal immigration police agency claimed that 21, real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is a “United Kingdom national” who “is unlawfully present in the US.”
According to the Blast, he has just confirmed that he was born in the UK. Reuters obtained the rapper’s birth certificate from a London registry office, which states he was born in London’s Newham borough. Through his reps, 21 claims that he immigrated to the US at the age of seven with an H-4 visa, went back to the UK for a visit in 2005, and then returned to the US within the same month. Apparently, he lost his legal status in 2006 “through no fault of his own” and applied for a visa in 2017 upon realizing his illegal status. The statement reads:
Mr. Abraham-Joseph has three U.S. Citizen children, a lawful permanent resident mother and four siblings that are either US Citizens or lawful permanent residents. He has exceptionally strong ties in the United States, having lived here since he was in the first grade. Because of his length of residence in the United States and his immediate relatives, Mr. Abraham-Joseph is eligible to seek Cancellation of Removal from an Immigration Judge.
Mr. Abraham-Joseph was placed into deportation proceedings AFTER his arrest, he was not in deportation proceedings prior to this detention by ICE. DHS has known his address since the filing of a U visa application in 2017. He has never hidden from DHS or any of its agencies. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is not subject to mandatory detention under federal law and is eligible for bond. By statute, bond should be granted by ICE when there is no flight risk or a danger to the community… We are unaware of why ICE apparently targeted Mr. Abraham-Joseph, but we will do everything possible to legally seek his release and pursue his available relief in immigration court.
ICE initially released a statement claiming 21 came to the US legally in 2005 but overstayed his visa, adding, “In addition to being in violation of federal immigration law, [21 Savage] was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia.”
21’s representatives responded in the latest statement: “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has no criminal convictions or charges under state or federal law and is free to seek relief from removal in immigration court. ICE provided incorrect information to the press when it claimed he had a criminal conviction.”
Today, Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson shared a letter he sent to the immigration judge handling 21’s case, appealing for his release from detention. “He spends his time giving back to the community and supporting and promoting the betterment of our youth,” the letter reads. “He has been an outstanding figure and influence within his family and within Atlanta.”
Read our essay, ‘ICE’s Arrest Of 21 Savage Is An Outrage,’ here.