On Sunday, fans around the world were left shocked after news broke of Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage’s arrest in Atlanta by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

An ICE spokesman Brian Cox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the 26-year-old, whose birth name is Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested in a “targeted operation” early that morning.

Cox said the rapper is a citizen of the United Kingdom who entered the country legally in July 2005 when he was a minor but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa. Adding that, the rapper became “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” when his visa expired in July 2006. 


“In addition to being in violation of federal immigration law, Mr. Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia,” an ICE spokesman said in a statement. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts. ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions.”

A spokesperson for ICE also claimed that the rapper’s “whole public persona is false.”

On Monday, the rapper’s attorney Charles Kuck released a statement in which he claimed that Abraham-Joseph arrest is “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges.” He also revealed that Abraham-Joseph is currently being held without bond, “despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application with USCIS, and that he has relief from removal available to him.”

Kuck also added that “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hidden his immigration status from the US Government.” He claims that the “Department of Homeland Security has known his address and his history since his filing for the U-Visa in 2017.”

Abraham-Joseph’s representatives are currently working to secure his release. 

“We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with the authorities to clear up any misunderstandings,” Dina LaPolt told CNN in a statement. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Georgia, and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”

The news of ICE’s allegations that Abraham-Joseph is British came as a shock to the artist’s fans, as he has been mostly associated with Atlanta and its music scene. As in his music, he has referred to his past in East Atlanta’s Zone 6 and he has said that the “21” in his name is in reference to a street gang in Decatur. 

In 2017, the Atlanta-based rapper released his debut album Issa Album which featured hit song “Bank Account,” that same year he also released a collaborative album with Offset and Metro Boomin named Without Warning. Last year, he released his second album I Am > I Was in December. For the upcoming Grammy Awards, the song Rockstar by Post Malone which he features on has been nominated for Record of the Year and Best Rap Performance. 

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