21 Savage is being denied a release on bail in the wake of his arrest yesterday by ICE officials, according to a statement from his attorney, who also say that he was arrested “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges.” The attorney, Charles H. Kuck, also claims that the rapper (legal name: She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) has never hidden his immigration status from the U.S. government, that he has a pending U-Visa application (as the victim of an unspecified crime) and that the Department of Homeland Security has known his address since he filed for the that visa in 2017.
Officials for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
ICE claims that Savage is a British citizen whose U.S. visa expired in 2006; since his rise to fame in 2015 he has claimed to be from Atlanta, and most fans were surprised to learn that he is British. Complicating his immigration status is the fact that he was reportedly convicted of felony drug charges in 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia, although his attorney disputes that claim.
“ICE detained She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the well-known Atlanta based recording artist and songwriter also known as ‘21 Savage,’” the statement reads. “Based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges and now refusing to release him on bond of any amount, despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application (as the victim of crime) with USCIS, and that he has relief from removal available to him. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hid his immigration status from the US government. The Department of Homeland Security has known his address and his history since his filing for the U Visa in 2017, yet they took no action against him until this past weekend. ICE can only continue to detain individuals who are a threat the community or a flight risk to not show up at their hearings. Obviously, our client is not a flight risk, as he is widely recognizable, and a prominent member of the music industry. Likewise, Mr. Abraham-Joseph is clearly not a danger to the community, and in fact, his contributions to local communities and schools that he grew up in are examples of the type of immigrant we want in America.
“ICE has not charged Mr. Abraham-Joseph with any crime,” the statement continues. “As a minor, his family overstayed their work visas, and he, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own. This is a civil law violation, and the continued detention of Mr. Abraham-Joseph serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States. He rose above the difficult circumstances of his youth to achieve success and make contributions to our society that rival any of those by a natural born citizen. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has US citizen children that he supports and is eligible for relief from deportation. We and he will fight for his release, for his family, and his right to remain in our country. No one would expect less from him.”
On Sunday, ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox said, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present United Kingdom national Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph AKA ’21 Savage’ during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners early Sunday in metro Atlanta. Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.”
A coalition to stop 21 Savage’s deportation has been created by several civil and immigration rights organizations, and petitions have been circulated as well.