Rapper 21 Savage will be released from ICE detention on Wednesday

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Rapper 21 Savage, whose musical persona revolves around the city of Atlanta, is British and in the country illegally, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Posted: Feb. 12, 2019 11:10 PM
Updated: Feb. 12, 2019 11:10 PM

London-born and Atlanta-raised rapper 21 Savage will be released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody on Wednesday morning after spending more than a week in ICE detention, his immigration attorney Charles Kuck said.

21 Savage, whose legal name is She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, will be released on bond, his attorney said.

The Grammy-nominated rapper was arrested February 3 by ICE, which said he was born in the United Kingdom and was in the United States illegally.

21 Savage's birth certificate says he was born in East London to British parents. He was brought to the United States at age 7 and in 2005 left before returning a month later, according to Kuck.

In 2006, 21 Savage's parents failed to renew his visa. He's been living in the United States illegally ever since, according to immigration officials.

Attorneys Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro issued a statement on behalf of 21 Savage that thanked his supporters.

"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," the statement said.

"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 was nominated for two Grammy awards for featuring on Post Malone's hit song "Rockstar." He had been scheduled to perform at the show before his arrest, publicist Tammy Brook said.

An ICE spokesman referred questions on the topic to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Justice Department office that oversees US immigration cases. An Executive Office for Immigration Review spokesman referred questions to ICE.

He has applied for a visa

Kuck has said his client has a U-visa application pending with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and "has relief from removal available to him." The visa application was filed in 2017, four years after the rapper reportedly was shot six times during an incident in which his friend died.

A U-visa is available to those who have been the victims of a crime in the United States, have suffered physical or mental injury as a result of a crime and who are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in an investigation or criminal prosecution, according to ICE.

LaPolt said last week that attorneys were working to clear up any misunderstandings with ICE and help free the rapper.

"Mr. Abraham-Joseph 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," LaPolt said in a statement to CNN.

The revelation that 21 Savage is British came as a shock to the artist's fans, because he is most closely associated with Atlanta and its music scene. He has said the "21" in his name is a reference to a street gang in Decatur, and his songs often refer to his past in East Atlanta's Zone 6. In "Bank Account," for example, he raps that he is "straight up out the 6."

He announced a "21 Savage Bank Account" campaign last year that gave 21 teens $1,000 to start their own bank accounts and learn about financial literacy.

"It's ironic because growing up in Atlanta, I knew almost nothing about bank accounts," he said in a March news release. "Now that I do have money in my bank account, I want to help kids with a background similar to mine to get smart about their money."

In October 2014, 21 Savage was convicted in Fulton County on counts of marijuana possession with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of certain felonies and manufacturing, delivery, distribution and/or possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. The rapper's representatives say the conviction was expunged.

He began rapping in 2013 and became part of Atlanta's robust underground hip-hop scene. In 2017, his studio debut "Issa" hit No. 2 on the rap charts.

His latest album was released last month and spent the first two weeks of 2019 atop the Billboard 200.

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