21 Savage has confirmed he was born in the UK after being arrested in Atlanta by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for being "unlawfully present in the US".
The rapper, whose real name is She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, stated via representatives that he was born in Newham, London, and emigrated to the US when he was 7 years old. In 2005 he departed to vist the UK, and returned later that month.
21 claims his legal status expired in 2006 "through no fault of his own", and that he applied for a visa in 2017 after learning that he required one.
"Mr Abraham-Joseph has three US citizen children, a lawful permanent resident mother and four siblings that are either US citizens or lawful permanent residents," the statement continued. "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."
The statement continued: "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 US 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-Jospeh, 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 US legally in July 2005, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa and he became unlawfully present in the US 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," it said.
However, a 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.”
21 has received support from a number of fellow artists, along with Georgia congressman Hank Johnson, who shared a letter he sent to the immigration judge overseeing the rapper's case over the weekend.
"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."
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