Atlanta Rapper Arrested by Officials over ‘Expired visa’

Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has been arrested by immigration officials who say he is actually from the UK.
Atlanta Rapper Arrested by Officials over ‘Expired visa’

Grammy-nominated Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage, a rising figure in American hip hop whose songs often canvas his upbringing and his life of crime, has been arrested by US immigration officials who said he was actually a British national living illegally in the country.

The rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, came to the United States from the UK as a teenager in 2005, overstaying his visa to settle in Atlanta, said Bryan Cox, a spokesman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mr. Cox said Abraham-Joseph, whose album I Am and I Was went to number one on the US Billboard 200 chart after its December release, was in custody in Georgia and faced deportation proceedings in federal immigration courts.

The "21" in his name is a reference to a gang in the city he says he is a member of the rapper will face deportation proceedings in an immigration court.

On social media, the news has come as a shock to fans, many of whom have long associated Savage with Atlanta – an epicenter of US hip hop – alongside rappers like Migos, Ludacris and T.I.

While some ridiculed the rapper, posting memes about his Britishness, others in the hip hop community offered support.

In a 2016 interview, Abraham-Joseph talked about the different neighborhoods he had grown up in.

"Everybody knows me," he said of Atlanta. "If you don't, you ain't from this city."

He has long referenced his connection to gang life, saying he sold and stole drugs since he was 13 or 14. The "21" in his stage name refers to a neighborhood gang he has been associated with "my whole life", he said in one interview.

In a 2016 profile in The Fader, the rapper said he was eight years old when he first saw a gun, though he did not say where he was. Media reports put his age at 26, meaning he would have been 12 or 13 when ICE alleges he arrived in the US.

The rapper's lawyer, Dina LaPolt, said Abraham-Joseph was a "role model" who was working on financial literacy programs aimed at helping underprivileged youth.

"We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding," she said in a statement cited by US media.

Mr. Cox said he did not know whether Abraham-Joseph would have been eligible for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, which protects "Dreamers" – young immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children.

However, DACA does not cover people convicted of felonies, and Mr. Cox said Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in Georgia in 2014.

Abraham-Joseph's nominations for the Grammys, which take place next week, are for his guest appearance on the Post Malone hit Rockstar.

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