Fans were shocked when “Atlanta-known” rapper 21 Savage was taken into custody by ICE during Super Bowl weekend and now faces possible deportation back to the UK.
An immigration attorney say agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement improperly detained rapper 21 Savage “based on incorrect information about prior criminal charges” and are now “refusing to release him on bond of any amount.”
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox confirmed to USA TODAY that the 26-year-old musician, who was born in the United Kingdom as Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was placed in federal immigration Sunday custody following a “targeted operation” in Atlanta. He said Abraham-Joseph will face federal deportation proceedings as a result of overstaying his U.S. visa as a youth. It expired in 2006.
On Monday, Charles H. Kuck, the rapper’s Atlanta-based immigration attorney fired back, asking why ICE waited until now to act.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hid his immigration status from the U.S. government,” Kuck told USA TODAY in a statement. “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.”
Not only is Abraham-Joseph is not currently charged with any crime, Kuck said, but he “has a pending U-Visa application (as the victim of crime) on file with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services” and “has U.S. citizen children that he supports and is eligible for relief from deportation.”
In Kuck’s view, “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 painted Abraham-Joseph in terms similar to that of the estimated 3.6 million Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors and whose fates have been long tied up in the immigration fight in Washington.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s 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,” he wrote, vowing, “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.”
USA TODAY reached out to ICE for a response to the attorney’s claims.
Abraham-Joseph’s arrest came just days after his performance at the the Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest in Atlanta. He’s also nominated for two awards at the Grammys, which will take place Feb. 10.
Atlanta fought hard to be recognized on the hip-hop scene. However, at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Southernplayalisticadillac funky music is a side dish to Maroon 5’s halftime show.
The rapper has long been considered an Atlanta native. He collaborated with Atlanta-based artists Gucci Mane and Zaytoven for the song “East Atlanta Day,” in which he rapped that Glenwood Road was the place where he “got his first stripe” at age 13.
21 Savage released his debut “Issa Album” in 2017, which included his single “Bank Account.” In the song, the artist rapped that he’s “straight up out the 6,” a reference to Zone 6 in East Atlanta.
Later that year, 21 Savage was featured on Post Malone’s hit single “Rockstar,” which is nominated for record of the year and best rap/sung collaboration at the Grammy Awards. He also released the joint album “Without Warning” with Offset and Metro Boomin in October 2017.
In December 2018, he distributed his second album, “I Am > I Was,” which features J. Cole, Schoolboy Q and Lil Baby.
Contributing: Travis Dorman in Knoxville and The Associated Press
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