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Atlanta lawmaker calls for release of rapper 21 Savage from ICE custody

Posted: 4:04 AM, Feb 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-06 10:18:16-05

A Georgia lawmaker is urging federal officials to release rapper 21 Savage after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials detained him in Atlanta this week.

21 Savage is a UK citizen who entered the United States legally when he was a minor in July 2005 but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said. His visa expired in 2006.

The rapper, born She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is being held without bail based on "incorrect information about prior criminal charges," a lawyer said.

In a letter to ICE , Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who represents Georgia's 4th District, described the rapper as a "remarkable young man ... (who) spends his time giving back to the community."

Johnson said he's a prime candidate for bond based on his own recognizance, a valuable member of the community, and a sole breadwinner for his siblings and children.

"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 prison," he said.

Removal proceedings are ongoing

Abraham-Joseph has been placed into removal proceedings, ICE said. It added that future actions will be determined by the outcome of the case before a federal immigration judge.

Immigration attorney Charles Kuck said the rapper came to the US legally. He took a trip to the United Kingdom in 2005 and returned on an H-4 visa, Kuck said.

In a statement, the attorney said, "like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, (he) was left without immigration status as a young child with no way to fix his immigration status."

Abraham-Joseph's legal status expired in 2006 through "no fault of his own," the attorney said.

The rapper has a U-visa application -- which is available to victims of a crime in the United States -- pending with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Kuck said.

The visa application was filed in 2017, four years after he was reportedly shot six times during an incident in which his friend died.

He's father to three US citizens

Abraham-Joseph has several relatives in the United States, including three children who are US citizens, and a mother and four siblings who are either lawful permanent residents or US citizens, his lawyer said.

In October 2014, he 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.