21 Savage Arrested by ICE, Accused of Actually Being U.K. Citizen Who Overstayed Visa: Reports
21 Savage was arrested on Sunday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which claims the rapper is actually a citizen of the United Kingdom and has overstayed his visa, according to multiple reports.
ICE spokesman Brian Cox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the 26-year-old rapper, born Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested in a “targeted operation” early on Sunday morning.
Cox reportedly said the rapper is an “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” who entered the country legally as a teenager in July 2005 on a visa, which expired the following year.
“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, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. “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.”
According to CNN reporter Nick Valencia, a spokesman for ICE claimed that the rapper’s “whole public persona is false.”
ICE and reps for 21 Savage did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
In a statement to TMZ, the rapper’s attorney Dina LaPolt said, “We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in the country — especially in Atlanta, Georgia and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”
21 Savage has previously claimed to be from Georgia.
“We are the real Atlanta, we are really in the street, we are really what the f— Atlanta has going on,” he told XXL in 2015. “The other s— y’all been seeing, some of them really from Atlanta but some ain’t…we bringing back that pain, street real feeling music.”
In August 2018, 21 Savage hosted his third-annual school supplies drive benefitting students from DeKalb County Schools at a flea market he said he frequented as a teenager, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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Speaking about his 2014 arrest, the rapper previously told GQ he was arrested after being pulled over in a car that was filled with contraband.
“It wasn’t my fault, though, and I done sold every drug, robbed every — I did everything there is to do, except rob a bank. I swear to God on my life I did everything in between. And I ain’t never go to jail for that s—,” he remarked.