UPDATED: Rapper 21 Savage, who was arrested earlier this month and incarcerated by ICE due to a visa violation, was released on bond today pending a deportation hearing. In a statement, attorneys Charles H. Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro on the rapper’s behalf, wrote:
“For the past 9 long days, we, on behalf of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, known to the world as 21 Savage, have been speaking with ICE to both clarify his actual legal standing, his eligibility for bond, and provide evidence of his extraordinary contributions to his community and society.
“In the last 24 hours, in the wake of the Grammy Awards at which he was scheduled to attend and perform, we received notice that She’yaa was granted an expedited hearing.
“Today, 21 Savage was granted a release on bond. He won his freedom.
“21 Savage asked us to send a special message to his fans and supporters—he says that while he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together.
“He will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”
Savage was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Atlanta on Feb. 3, on the grounds that he is actually from the United Kingdom and overstayed his visa.
“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,” ICE spokesman Brian Cox said. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.” Savage was convicted of felony drug charges in 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia, although that conviction was later expunged, as noted by Kuck, who said the arrest was “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges.”
Jay-Z, Cardi B, Kendick Lamar, J. Cole, Post Malone and many other artists have spoken out over Savage’s arrest, some of whom appeared with his mother in a recent PSA. Malone shouted out the rapper’s name and wore a “Free 21 Savage” during his performance at the Grammy Awards, although most viewers did not seem to notice; Malone’s team later serviced a photo of the rapper wearing the shirt. Dua Lipa also spoke out about his incarceration in the press room after the awards.
In a statement released shortly after Savage’s release, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation said: “We will continue to stand with 21 Savage and all the families that continue to be unfairly victimized by our country’s broken immigration policies.”
On Feb. 11, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California expressed concern over the rapper’s incarceration. “His detainment in an Atlanta ICE detention center raises a number of questions,” she wrote. “First, that he continues to be held there even though he apparently has been undergoing immigration processes to become a legal resident brings into questions once again the Trump Administration’s policies to initiate drastic enforcement actions that actually interfere with the ability of individuals to follow the law and to obtain legal status as provided by our immigration laws. … Secondly, as it appears he poses no danger to society nor does he appear to pose a flight risk, questions arise as to why this individual remains in custody rather than released on bond while his immigration case proceeds. … Finally, as a successful artist, he is able to give voice to the views of so many Americans who are critical of Trump Administration policies, activity that is protected by the First Amendment. His presence in the United States has been known to the Department of Homeland Security for some time, certainly since his application for a U-visa. Recently he released a song criticizing the activities of the DHS in its treatment of immigrant children at the border. It was just a few days later that ICE chose to arrest him. Was his arrest in response to his Constitutionally protected speech? It looks like that. If so, that cannot be tolerated in a free society.”
21 Savage’s legal team is a who’s who of top attorneys each specializing in different fields related to his case. They include Spiro, who was hired by Jay-Z and Roc Nation to help the rapper; Charles Kuck from Kuck and Baxter, a leading immigration lawyer; Abbi Taylor and Brian Steele, Atlanta criminal lawyers; and Bruce Harvey. 21 Savage’s personal attorney Dina LaPolt is overseeing efforts concerning his detention, which she says points to “the bigger inequity: that this is a systemic problem in America. They have no right to keep him.”