The case of 21 Savage’s legal woes concerning his citizenship status continue to mount, but his legal team is firing back, saying the rapper may have been targeted because of his anti-ICE rap music lyrics.
“Many have speculated as to possible ulterior motives for his arrest and detention, including that he released music five days prior to his arrest by ICE, which included new lyrics condemning the behavior of immigration officials for their detention of children at the border,” the 26-year-old rapper’s legal team said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
At issue is 21 Savage’s song “A Lot” from his album I Am > I Was, in which he rapped: “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.”
On Sunday, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that Savage, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was part of a “targeted operation” conducted in metro Atlanta area. That operation purpose was to arrest 21 Savage as a person who is “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” and because he is also a convicted on felony drug charges in 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia.
The Savage team claim that the popular rapper is a Dreamer, who was brought into the country illegally but was offered a visa with the promise of citizenship under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph, like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, was left without immigration status as a young child with no way to fix his immigration status.”
They continue and said Savage “has no criminal convictions or charges under state or federal law and is free to seek relief from removal in immigration court.”
Leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement have rallied behind 21 Savage and launched an online petition in an attempt to stop his potential deportation with the social media campaign, #Free21Savage.
Cardi B, who collaborated with 21 Savage on her song Bartier Cardi, wrote on Instagram:
“We will read and educate ourselves on this situation and we will take action! 21 did not come here illegally and was not caught doing anything illegal or doing any mischief! in fact he have change his whole life around and as ya can see he’s been very positive in his actions and music.”
Other supporters including rappers Quavo and Post Malone, and producer Metro Boomin.
Killer Mike also voiced support, tweeting: “My sincere hope is to see this young man who has made a way for himself allowed to stay and continue to prosper and grow his legacy.”