21 Savage remains in lockdown as attorneys seek to clarify immigration status

Representatives for the rapper admit he was born in the UK, but say he has right to stay in the US

21 Savage, photo by Philip Cosores

Attorneys for 21 Savage have offered more details of the rapper’s nationality and immigration status in the United States while maintaining that his arrest over the weekend was a “civil law violation.”

The 26-year-old rapper (né Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) was arrested early Sunday morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a subsequent statement, an ICE spokesperson alleged 21 Savage to be a “United Kingdom national” who “initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa.”

According to attorneys for 21 Savage (via Pitchfork), he was in fact born in Newham, a borough of London. He immigrated to the United States with his family he was seven years old. He briefly returned to the UK in 2005, but returned to the US after just a month. His attorneys contend 21 Savage lost his legal status in 2006 “through no fault of his own” and applied for a visa in 2017 once he learned he was in the country illegally.

21 Savage’s attorneys also point out that he has “three U.S. Citizen children, a lawful permanent resident mother and four siblings that are either US Citizens or lawful permanent residents,” adding, “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.”

As such, his attorneys questioned the legality of his detainment: “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.”

His attorneys also criticized ICE for spreading inaccurate information regarding his criminal record. “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,” they said.

As attorneys seek 21 Savage’s immediate release, they’ve received some welcome help from Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson, who sent a letter to the immigration judge overseeing his case. In a letter appealing for 21 Savage’s release, Johnson wrote, “He spends his time giving back to the community and supporting and promoting the betterment of our youth. He has been an outstanding figure and influence within his family and within Atlanta.”

Yet as of this evening, 21 Savage remains in custody — and the situation sounds pretty harrowing. In a tweet, the rapper’s manager wrote, “Just got off phone wit Savage. He is in lockdown for 23hrs of the day no TV or any communication besides our 10 min phone calls.

“Everything I’ve told him that has been happening made him happy & makes this time fly by thank y’all for the support,” his manager added.


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