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The rapper has released a statement clarifying his immigration status.

21 Savage has confirmed that he was born in the United Kingdom following his arrest by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the weekend, who claimed the rapper had been in the country illegally since 2006.

As Pitchfork reports, 21 Savage today (February 6) released a statement clarifying his circumstances, saying that he immigrated to the US when he was seven years old, departed in 2005 to visit the United Kingdom, and returned later that month. Reuters also obtained a copy of a British birth certificate thought to belong to the rapper, born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph.

The rapper claims his legal status expired in 2006 and that he applied for a visa in 2017 once he discovered that he required one. The statement continues:

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has three U.S. Citizen children, a lawful permanent resident mother and four siblings that are either US Citizens or lawful permanent residents. He has exceptionally strong ties in the United States, having lived here since he was in the first grade. Because of his length of residence in the United States and his immediate relatives, Mr. Abraham-Joseph is eligible to seek Cancellation of Removal from an Immigration Judge.

Mr. Abraham-Joseph was placed into deportation proceedings AFTER his arrest, he was not in deportation proceedings prior to this detention by ICE. DHS has known his address since the filing of a U visa application in 2017. He has never hidden from DHS or any of its agencies. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is not subject to mandatory detention under federal law and is eligible for bond. By statute, bond should be granted by ICE when there is no flight risk or a danger to the community… We are unaware of why ICE apparently targeted Mr. Abraham-Joseph, but we will do everything possible to legally seek his release and pursue his available relief in immigration court.”

The Atlanta rapper was arrested whilst driving in a car with his cousin and fellow hip-hop artist Young Nudy on Sunday (February 3). Immigration officials said that he was unlawfully present in the United States, claiming that he arrived in the country in July, 2005 at the age of 12 and did not leave when his visa expired a year later.

Georgia congressman Hank Johnson is the latest to respond in support of the rapper following his arrest, posting a letter he sent to the immigration judge overseeing 21 Savage’s case, claiming that the rapper “spends his time giving back to the community and supporting and promoting the betterment of our youth”.

In a statement, lawyer Charles H. Kuck called the arrest of 21 Savage a “civil law violation”, asserting that holding the rapper in custody “serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States.”

In addition, Black Lives Matter has created a campaign in support of the rapper, which has received backing from artists including Cardi B, Quavo, Post Malone, Metro Boomin and Killer Mike.

 

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Update, February 7: JAY-Z has thrown his support behind 21 Savage.

Hip-hop legend JAY-Z has hired attorney Alex Spiro to assist with 21 Savage’s case, reports Variety.

“The arrest and detention of 21 Savage is an absolute travesty, his U Visa petition has been pending for 4 years”, said JAY-Z in a Facebook post. “21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately”. Read the whole statement below.

Read next: The Rap Round-Up, January 2019 – YNW Melly is a class clown laughing at his own jokes

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