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21 Savage’s lawyer says he applied for a visa in 2017

The rapper apparently ‘never hid his immigration status from the US government’

ICE, the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, has detained 21 Savage, claiming that the Atlanta rapper is in fact a UK national who entered the US legally in 2005 and overstayed his visa. His lawyer, Charles H. Kuck, has issued a new statement on the arrest, claiming that he “never hid his immigration status from the US government” and even applied for a U-Visa in 2017.

“ICE detained She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the well-known Atlanta based recording artist and songwriter also known as 21 Savage, based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges and (are) now refusing to release him on bond of any amount, despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application (as the victim of crime) with USCIS, and that he has relief from removal available to him,” Kuck says. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hid his immigration status from the US government. 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.”

“ICE can only continue to detain individuals who are a threat the community or a flight risk to not show up at their hearings. Obviously, our client is not a flight risk, as he is widely recognisable, and a prominent member of the music industry. Likewise, Mr. Abraham-Joseph 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.”

“ICE has not charged Mr. Abraham-Joseph with any crime. As a minor, his family overstayed their work visas, and he, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own. This is a civil law violation, and 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 rose above the difficult circumstances of his youth to achieve success and make contributions to our society that rival any of those by a natural born citizen. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has US citizen children that he supports and is eligible for relief from deportation. 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.”

Last week, during a performance on The Tonight Show, 21 added a new verse to his song “A Lot” that included the lines “Been through some things so I can’t imagine my kids stuck at the border / Flint still need water / People was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.”

Following 21’s detention, a coalition of civil rights groups including Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, and Undocublack have aligned for a petition to stop the rapper’s deportation. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been in the United States since he was a young child. Atlanta is his home. He has no current or prior criminal convictions and he is beloved by his friends, fans, and family,” the coalition says in a statement. “It is shameful that he and so many black immigrants are separated from their families on a daily basis as part of the US’s heartless and racist immigration policies.”

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.