The saga around 21 Savage’s immigration status has been playing out in front of our very eyes with competing narratives from his camp and ICE, who is trying to portray him as a vicious criminal, tearing apart the very fabric of American life. In a new statement released yesterday, 21 Savage, real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, through representatives, has confirmed that he was born in the UK and came to the United States when he was seven.
Reuters obtained an apparent copy of his birth certificate, which states he was born in Newham, a borough of London in 1992.
Savage’s reps say he left the country in 2005 and came back one month later. His visa expired in 2006 “through no fault of his own” and applied for a visa in 2017 when he discovered he needed a new one.
His team issued the following statement via Pitchfork.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has three U.S. Citizen children, a lawful permanent resident mother and four siblings that are either US Citizens or lawful permanent residents. 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.
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 U 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-Joseph, but we will do everything possible to legally seek his release and pursue his available relief in immigration court.”
ICE at the time of the arrest on Sunday, February 3 said he “initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa and he became unlawfully present in the U.S. 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.”
Savage’s lawyer Jacoby Hudson contests that 21 Savage has a criminal record, saying ICE has provided incorrect information. According to a statement, the arrest had been sealed and expunged.
Hudson at the time of the arrest called this “a civil law violation.” He further noted to WSBTV “the continued detention of [21 Savage] 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.”
In addition to trying to paint him as a criminal, ICE has tried to make him out to be a fraud by highlighting the fact he was born in the UK and not Atlanta. Many rappers talk about dealing drugs and all sorts of criminality, but never actually did it themselves. Rick Ross took his entire persona from another guy because he was a corrections officer. Hip-hop is very forgiving in the cult of personality. Plus 21 was just seven when he arrived to the US, so this is what he knows.
ICE has stepped up its punishments of immigrants during the Trump administration, even going after legal immigrants with green cards or permanent legal residents. 21 Savage is a high profile name who has the means to defend himself and has garnered support from a global community, but many don’t have that.
21 Savage has three kids and launched the Bank Account Campaign to teach teens financial literacy and open bank accounts.