21 Savage Released on Bond Following ICE Incarceration: 'He Won His Freedom,' Say Lawyers
Nine days after being arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 21 Savage has been granted bond and was released from federal immigration custody on Wednesday. He and his mother were then flown from Fitzgerald, Georgia, near the ICE dentation center, to Dekalb-Peachtree airport. The two landed in Atlanta shortly after his hearing.
The 26-year-old rapper, born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested on Feb. 3 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as authorities claimed he is actually a citizen of the United Kingdom and had overstayed his visa.
The news was shared on his behalf by the rapper’s lawyers, Charles H. Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro, in a statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday.
“For the past nine long days, we, on behalf of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, known to the world as 21 Savage, have been speaking with ICE to both clarify his actual legal standing, his eligibility for bond, and provide evidence of his extraordinary contributions to his community and society,” the message began.
“In the last 24 hours, in the wake of the Grammy Awards at which he was scheduled to attend and perform, we received notice that She’yaa was granted an expedited hearing. Today, 21 Savage was granted a release on bond. He won his freedom.”
During the 61st Annual Recording Academy gala on Sunday, 21 Savage got a shout out from songwriter Ludwig Göransson as he accepted the song of the year Grammy for “This Is America” on behalf of his cowriter, Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover). “He should be here tonight,” said Göransson.
The statement from 21 Savage’s lawyers continued by thanking those who had shown their support during his arrest.
“21 Savage asked us to send a special message to his fans and supporters — he says that while he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together.”
In conclusion they write, “He will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”
21 Savage has long been hailed as a local act from Atlanta, but according to multiple reports, ICE claims he is actually a citizen of the United Kingdom and has overstayed his visa.
ICE spokesman Brian Cox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the artist was arrested in a “targeted operation” early on the morning of Feb. 3.
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.”
On Feb. 5, 21 Savage’s attorney Charles H. Kuck released a statement to PEOPLE, claiming that 21 Savage’s arrest is “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges.” Kuck revealed 21 Savage was 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 said “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hid his immigration status from the US Government.” and claimed that the “Department of Homeland Security has known his address and his history since his filing for the U-Visa in 2017.”
The rapper’s legal team expounded on his history in an additional statement on Feb. 6, confirming 21 Savage was, in fact, born in Britain.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was born in the United Kingdom. Mr. Abraham-Joseph arrived legally in the United States at the age of 7,” the statement explained.
“He remained in the United States until 2005, when he departed for approximately one month to visit the United Kingdom. He returned to the United States under a valid H-4 visa on July 22, 2005.”
An H-4 visa is issued to immediate family members, spouses or children under the age of 21.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad. Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s legal status expired through no fault of his own.”
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“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.”
His lawyers argued that he should be considered a Dreamer, the name used to describe children who were brought to this country illegally by their parents and were offered visas under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy.
His legal team went on to argue 21 Savage “has no criminal convictions or charges under state or federal law and is free to seek relief from removal in immigration court.”
“ICE provided incorrect information to the press when it claimed he had a criminal conviction.”