On Sunday, February 3, 21 Savage was arrested in Atlanta and taken into custody by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a statement, an ICE spokesperson claimed that 21 (real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) is a “United Kingdom national” who “is unlawfully present in the U.S.”
Now, 21 has stated via representatives that he was born in the United Kingdom, as the Blast reports and Pitchfork can confirm. A report published by Reuters points to a birth certificate sourced from a London registry office which states he was born in Newham, a borough of London.
The rapper clarified via reps that he immigrated to the United States when he was 7 years old, departed in 2005 to visit the United Kingdom, and returned later that month. 21 claims his legal status expired in 2006 “through no fault of his own” and applied for a visa in 2017 once he discovered that he required one. The statement continues:
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.
At the time of the arrest, ICE claimed in a statement that 21 Savage “initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa and he became unlawfully present in the U.S. when his visa expired in July 2006. 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.”
The new statement from 21’s representatives reads: “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.”
Earlier today, Congressman Hank Johnson from Georgia posted a letter he sent to the immigration judge overseeing 21 Savage’s case, making a case for the rapper’s release from detention. “He spends his time giving back to the community and supporting and promoting the betterment of our youth,” Johnson wrote. “He has been an outstanding figure and influence within his family and within Atlanta.”
Shortly after the arrest, 21 Savage’s lawyer Charles H. Kuck released a statementabout the arrest, calling it “a civil law violation.” He noted that “the continued detention of [21 Savage] 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.”
Correction: A previous version of this story said 21 Savage arrived the United States at age 7 under an H-4 visa. His representatives have retracted the H-4 visa portion of their statement, simply stating in a revised statement that he arrived at age 7.