The Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage, who faces deportation after it was revealed he was a secret British immigrant who overstayed his visa, was turned over to ICE by cops targeting his cousin, rapper Young Nudy.
Nudy, whose real name is Quantavious Thomas, was stopped by DeKalb County police and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Sunday in a targeted swoop, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
21 Savage, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, happened to be riding with Thomas and has not been charged with any crime in connection with the stop.
However authorities said Abraham-Joseph, who has been living illegally in the U.S. since his childhood visa expired in 2005, is in “removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts” and thus was turned over to ICE.
His detention has provoked particular outrage in the music world and among his fan base, and has shone a spotlight on the apparently random nature of immigration proceedings. The fact that an award-winning musician is in essence being detained because his parents didn’t sort out his immigration status many years ago has lent moral weight to his lawyer’s argument that he was “left without legal status through no fault of his own.”
His lawyers are also arguing that his detention is based on “incorrect information about prior criminal charges and [ICE is] now refusing to release him on bond of any amount, despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application, and that he has relief from removal available to him.”
He said the feds have known his client’s address since he filed for the U-Visa in 2017 and questioned why they took no action until this weekend.
Indeed, there has been speculation that he only came on ICE’s radar after he attempted to regularize his status. A U-Visa is available to crime victims who are willing to provide ‘helpful information’ to law enforcement.
Having been denied bail, he will now likely miss the Grammy’s ceremony on Sunday, where he is up for record of the year for Rockstar with Post Malone, making him easily the most famous of the 4.5 million people estimated to be living in the U.S on expired visas.
Abraham-Joseph, who has collaborated with some of the music world’s hottest stars, including Drake, Cardi B, and Travis Scott has had numerous encounters with the law and has never sought to hide his status from the authorities, his legal team say.
In 2014 he was convicted of drug possession in Fulton County, and in 2016, according to the AJC, he called the cops to report that someone had kicked in the door of his 10th Street condo, taking a Glock handgun, a Rolex and other jewelry, a Louis Vuitton bag and a safe containing $345,000.
His lawyers have argued that he is a “role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Georgia, and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”
For the past three years, according to AJC, Abraham-Joseph has hosted an “Issa Back 2 School Drive” giving out backpacks, shoes, uniforms, and school supplies to thousands of kids.
In 2018, Abraham-Joseph helped promote the “paintballs up, guns down” campaign, which aimed to curb gun violence by urging young people to use paintball guns instead of real firearms.
Last year, 21 Savage skipped a tour date with Post Malone. It is now believed his visa issues could be to blame as a person without legal residency can’t cross the border.