As Atlanta's WSB-TV 2 reports, the artist born Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was taken into custody in the city this morning. A statement released by ICE alleges that Abraham-Joseph came to the United States legally in 2005, but failed to leave upon his visa's 2006 expiration.
UPDATE (2/4, 5:31 p.m. EST): Attorney Charles H. Kuck of Kuck Baxter Immigration has released a statement on 21 Savage's behalf, revealing that the rapper has a pending visa application. They write, "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." Read the statement below.
UPDATE (2/4, 11:45 a.m. EST): CBS reports that 21 Savage was arrested as part of an operation targeting fellow rapper Young Nudy (born Quantavious Thomas). As Pitchfork reports, Thomas — who is also 21 Savage's cousin — was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and participation in criminal gang activity.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF 21 SAVAGE ... pic.twitter.com/fL3WbTrEwk— Kuck Baxter Immigration (@KuckBaxter) February 4, 2019
The complete statement reads as follows:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present United Kingdom national Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph AKA "21 Savage" during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners early Sunday in metro Atlanta. Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.
Mr. Abraham-Joseph initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa and he became unlawfully present in the U.S. when his visa expired in July 2006. 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.
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.
CNN correspondent Nick Valencia was told by an ICE spokesperson that Abraham-Joseph's "whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa."
The rapper's attorney, Dina LaPolt, told TMZ, "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."
Twitter user @goldlinkjonny pointed out that during a performance of "a lot" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon late last month, 21 Savage included new lyrics referencing the ongoing Flint water crisis and the United States' detention of migrant children. You can find the bars in question from the performance below.
21 Savage performed in Atlanta this weekend as part of the city's Super Bowl festivities. As a community figure in Atlanta, the rapper was recognized for holding annual back-to-school and financial literacy initiatives.
He released his i am > i was LP in December of last year, and recently shared a video for the J. Cole-assisted opening track "a lot."
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox: "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present United Kingdom national Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph AKA '21 Savage' during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners early Sunday in metro Atlanta." https://t.co/G0WlPymYIr— Mark Winne (@MarkWinneWSB) February 3, 2019
BREAKING- @ICEgov spokesman tells me @21savage was taken into custody by ICE. "His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa." MORE COMING— Nick Valencia (@CNNValencia) February 3, 2019
a couple days ago 21 savage adds an extra verse on the live performance of "A lot" speaking on flint and immigration. today he is arrested by ICE with claims that he is from the U.K. ay man i'm not saying this a set up but it's highly questionable. pic.twitter.com/qyfYl7CmPk— rapsody stan account. (@goldlinkjonny) February 3, 2019