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Rapper 21 Savage arrested by ICE for overstaying U.S. visa

by Katherine Fernandez - copy editor
Tue, Feb 12th 2019 10:00 pm
deportation Rapper 21 Savage is now facing deportation back to the United Kingdom for overstaying his Visa. The rapper came to the country at a young age and was not aware that his Visa had expired.
deportation Rapper 21 Savage is now facing deportation back to the United Kingdom for overstaying his Visa. The rapper came to the country at a young age and was not aware that his Visa had expired.

Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage is a Grammy nominee, but rather than spending his Sunday preparing for the show, he was being held in a federal detention center. His crime? Coming to America at a young age and being unable to renew his own U.S. visa when it expired.

21 Savage, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested by U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3 and is currently being held without bail. Shortly after his arrest, his lawyers confirmed his status as a citizen of the United Kingdom. He entered the country legally in 2005 but when his visa expired in 2006, he was too young to understand the implications and rectify the situation himself. Abraham-Joseph has an active U-visa application dating back to 2017. U-visas are made available to victims of a crime and Abraham-Joseph was involved in an incident in 2013 where he was shot six times and a close friend of his lost his life.

Charles H. Kuck, one of the many attorneys that 21’s legal team is comprised of, released an official statement denouncing ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, insinuating that there may have been ulterior motives behind it's decision to arrest his client.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hid his immigration status from the U.S. government,” Kuck wrote. “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.”

Although he was arrested on drug and weapons charges in 2014, the charges have since been expunged from Abraham-Joseph’s records. His lawyers claim that he is being targeted due to his recent speech on the mistreatment of minors at the southern border. The extended version of his song “A Lot” off his latest album includes the line “Went through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.”

After his arrest, many have been wondering what will happen to the multi-million dollar fortune he has acquired during his rap career. According to TMZ, ICE cannot seize his fortune because it was earned legally, despite his illegal residency status. 26-year-old Abraham-Joseph has three children, who are U.S. citizens, four siblings and his mother here in the United States, all of whom he is the sole provider for.

Support has come pouring in from his peers in the music industry and community leaders. Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia’s 4th District wrote a letter on behalf of Abraham-Joseph, citing his various charitable acts in an effort to get DHS and ICEto stop the motion to deport him.

“He spends his time giving back to our community and has been living a life of paying it forward,” Johnson said. “I believe that it would be a serious hardship to She’yaa’s family and a loss for our community if he is not allowed bail so that he can be released from detention.”

He also referred to Abraham-Joseph as “an outstanding figure and influence within his family and within Atlanta.”

One of the ways he gives back to the impoverished Atlanta neighborhood he grew up in is by organizing his Annual Back To School Drive, which provides essential school supplies and “complimentary barber and hairdressing services” to students who otherwise would not have access to these necessities.

Many groups of activists have rallied behind him, including Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, UndocuBlack and Define America. These groups have banded together and started a petition to stop Abraham-Joseph's deportation. A tweet from Savage’s manager Meezy that was posted on February 5 gave his fans a deeper look into his situation.

“Just got off phone wit Savage...he is in lockdown for 23 hrs of the day no tv or any communication besides our 10 min phone calls...everything I’ve told him that has been happening made him happy & makes this time fly by thank y’all for the support” Meezy wrote.

As a premiere figure in the hip-hop scene, Savage’s incarceration inspired several internet feuds and hundreds of memes.

After controversial artist Chris Brown posted a 21 Savage related meme on Instagram, Offset of the rap trio Migos commented “memes ain’t funny lame,” sparking several explosive, expletive ridden responses from Brown.

The conflict doesn’t end at the hip-hop community. After pop artist Demi Lovato tweeted “So far 21 Savage memes have been my favorite part of the Super Bowl,” twitter users everywhere bashed her, bringing up her history of addiction to ridicule and shame her. As a result, Lovato has temporarily deactivated her twitter account.

Infamous far-right politician Tomi Lahren mocked Savage in a series of tweets, inciting responses from a lot of big names in the rap community. Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and The Game all lashed out against Lahren, condemning her constant critiques of the hip-hop industry, calling it obsessive.

A date has not yet been set for Abraham-Joseph’s hearing. The petition “Stop the Deportation of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph” currently has 443,780 signatures. You can sign the petition at https://campaigns.organizefor.org/


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