As the fallout continues from Sunday’s shocking ICE arrest of rapper 21 Savage in Atlanta, his attorney is claiming that the arrest is an attempt to intimidate the rapper into leaving the United States.
The rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was picked up by ICE just hours before the Super Bowl on Sunday and they claimed that he’s been “unlawfully present” in the U.S. since he was a child. The arrest revealed that the rapper, who has claimed to be from Atlanta, was born in London in 1992 and moved to the U.S. as a 12-year-old in 2005.
“As a minor, his family overstayed their work visas, and he, like almost 2 million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own,” Charles Kluck, 21’s lawyer said in a statement. “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.”
Kluck also said to TMZ that the arrest is “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges and ICE is 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.”
A U-Visa is a nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of crimes as well as their immediate family members who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse while in the U.S. and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. 21 Savage applied for the visa in 2017.
It stems from him being a victim of a shooting in 2013 where his closest friend was murdered. He could be eligible to remain in the United States under that visa. The status of is said to be pending.
An ICE official told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that 21 was picked up during a Sunday morning traffic stop in nearby DeKalb County, where three other people were arrested by DeKalb police.
“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,” Kluck said. An ICE official told the AJC they did not know of his immigration status when he was previously arrested in 2015.
Kluck said that the incident left 21 “severely affected physically and mentally.” 21 Savage has yet to be charged with any crimes and has not been able to publicly speak on the incident.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has US citizen children that he supports and is eligible for relief from deportation,” Kluck said. “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.”