Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage was arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday in Atlanta for allegedly overstaying his U.S. visa, an ICE spokesperson said.
According to CNN, ICE said that Shayaabin Abraham-Joseph, who goes by his stage name 21 Savage, is a citizen of the UK and is currently in the U.S. illegally. Abraham-Joseph allegedly entered the country legally in 2005 while he was still a minor, however, his visa expired in 2006, the agency reports. In 2014, he was convicted on felony drug charges in Georgia.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts,” ICE said in a statement. “ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions.”
Dina LaPolt, Abraham-Joseph’s lawyer, noted that his representatives are working to get the rapper “out of detention while we work with the authorities to clear up any misunderstandings.”
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Georgia, and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy,” LaPolt said.
The rapper has been nominated for two awards at the Grammys next week: Record of The Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Rockstar” with Post Malone. Over the past year, 21 Savage released the album Not All Heroes Wear Capes with Metro Boomin and Travis Scott, as well as the solo record i am > i was. He is best-known for the track “Bank Account” from 2017’s Issa Album.
21 Savage is due to perform at the University of Florida’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center on February 27. UF’s SPG Music and Entertainment organization released the following statement:
“Student Government Productions and the Black Student Union are surprised to hear the news relating to 21 Savage. We are working with our agents and will post an update once we have more information. We appreciate your patience and understanding.”
UPDATE (as of February 5): The rapper has clarified via his representatives that he immigrated to the U.S. at 7 years old, visited the UK in 2005, and returned to the states later that month, The Blast reports. He said that his legal status expired in 2006 “through no fault of his own,” and when he discovered that he needed a new visa, he applied in 2017.
The representatives released the following statement:
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.
The representatives also confirmed that ICE’s previous statement about 21 Savage’s criminal convictions is false.
“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,” the statement read. “ICE provided incorrect information to the press when it claimed he had a criminal conviction.”