Atlanta-raised rapper 21 Savage was arrested and detained by immigration officials last week. On Feb. 3, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents apprehended the Grammy-nominated rapper, whose birth name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, for allegedly living in the U.S. illegally.
In a statement released by ICE, first reported by CNN, a spokesperson said that the 26-year-old rapper now sits in a Georgia detention facility where officials expect to proceed with deportation.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts,” the spokesperson said in the statement.
The artist was born in the United Kingdom, but moved to the states with his mother and siblings when he was 7 years old, where he spent most of his life in Atlanta, according to statement released by his attorneys. After a brief visit to the U.K. in 2005, he returned under another visa, which eventually expired beyond his control, according to a statement by his Atlanta-based legal team Kuck and Baxter.
“Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s legal status expired through no fault of his own,” the statement read. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph, like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, was left without immigration status as a young child with no way to fix his immigration status. These “Dreamers” come from all walks of life and every ethnicity.”
The statement went on to add to that the rapper has never concealed his immigration status, and claims that the artist, who is currently being held with no bond, is a target because there were no preceding issues leading up to his arrest.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was placed into deportation proceedings after his arrest, he was not in deportation proceedings prior to this detention by ICE,” the statement read. “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.”
The arrest came as a shock to many of the rappers fans and the entertainment industry, and reignited the already steady spotlight on the controversial immigration agency.
Currently there are multiple petitions for the rappers release, one by national immigration advocacy group Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) — which has a New York chapter. A petition created by the group currently has over 300,000 signatures.