Here’s Everything We Know About 21 Savage’s ICE Arrest
21 Savage was arrested Sunday (Feb. 3) in a revelation that shook up hip-hop. The rapper, who has long claimed Atlanta as his native stomping grounds, was revealed to have been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The federal agency that's been mired in controversy for the last few years has claimed that 21 has citizenship in the UK and has been living in the U.S. illegally for more than a decade.
Social media has been rife with reactions to the incident since the news broke, with some poking fun at the surprising report and others responding sympathetically. As it stands, 21 Savage's future in the United States hangs in the limbo, while his past is murky is ever. As 21 Savage awaits a resolution on his deportation status, XXL rounds up all of the info we have surrounding his current legal status.
- On Sunday, Feb. 3, at 4 a.m., 21 Savage, Young Nudy and two other people were arrested by law enforcement in Atlanta.
- According to CBS News, Nudy was targeted by Atlanta police and booked for gang and assault charges—21 was allegedly accompanying him. However, DJ BJ, an associate of the two artists, refuted the claim in a now-deleted tweet. "Savage and Nudy were in separate cars…and it wasn’t even APD. Y’all doing some horrible reporting and investigating."
- 21 was held after law enforcement discovered that he was illegally living in America. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present United Kingdom national Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph AKA ‘21 Savage’ during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners early Sunday in metro Atlanta," said ICE spokesman Bryan Cox. "Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.”
- According to ICE, 21 came to America legally in 2005 via a non-immigrant visa, then overstayed when it expired in July 2006. The rapper is now in removal proceedings in federal immigration court.
- “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa,” an ICE spokesperson reportedly told CNN's Nick Valencia.
- 21 Savage's manager, Justin “Meezy” Williams, tweeted on Sunday night that he spoke with his artist, offering a succinct update: "He good."
- Meezy followed up two days later, revealing the harsh conditions that 21 is facing. "Just got off phone wit Savage ... he is in lockdown for 23hrs of the day no tv or any communication besides our 10 min phone calls. Everything I’ve told him that has been happening made him happy & makes this time fly by thank y’all for the support."
- On Feb. 7, TMZ reported that before 21 Savage's arrest, the rapper was "driving recklessly" before almost colliding with a cop car. That's when police reportedly stopped the rapper and found that the car's glove compartment contained a Glock with an extended magazine. 21 was apparently taken away by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) shortly thereafter.
- Brian Steel, one of 21 Savage's lawyers, says that neither the gun nor the vehicle (a Dodge Challenger) belong to the rapper.
21 Savage's Native Country
- It's been long rumored that 21 Savage was born and raised in Dominica, an island that was under British rule until 1978. Savage's old Facebook account lists Dominica as his hometown. But rumors have circulated for the past couple of years indicating that he's actually from London.
- According to 21 Savage's recently surfaced birth certificate, his mother, Heather Joseph, was born in Plaistow, Newham, a town in London. Here's a video of her from 2018.
- The certificate also shows that his father, Kevin Emmons, was born in Lambeth, another part of London. His Facebook page, however, cites his hometown as Roseau, Dominica.
- On The Breakfast Club, Angela Yee identified 21's father as Dr. Amsu Anpu, a holistic doctor who's previously appeared on the show. Anpu has called 21 Savage his son via his Instagram account. Of course, he could also be a step father or another male figure in 21's life—it's unclear.
- According to 21 Savage's co-manager, Meezy, the artist moved to the U.S. earlier than reported. Kei Henderson, 21's other co-manager, backs up the claim.
- On Tuesday (Feb. 5), 21 Savage's team released a statement seeking to clarify his legal situation, claiming he was born in the UK and arrived legally in the United States when he was 7 under an H-4 visa.
- According to the aforementioned statement, 21 remained in the United States until June 2005. He reportedly left to visit the UK for one month, returning to the U.S. under a valid H-4 visa. In 2006, 21 Savage lost his legal status through no fault of his own, the statement reads.
- 21 Savage's lawyer, Charles H. Kuck, released a statement earlier today, suggesting that his client is being treated unfairly.
- Here's Kuck's full statement: "ICE detained She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the well-known Atlanta based recording artist and songwriter also known as '21 Savage.' Based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges and now refusing to release him on bond of any amount, despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application (as the victim of crime) with USCIS, and that he has relief from removal available to him. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hidden his immigration status from the U.S. government. The Department of Homeland Security has known his address and his history since his filing for the U Visa in 2017, yet they took no action against him until this past weekend. ICE can only continue to detain individuals who are a threat the community or a flight risk to not show up at their hearings. Obviously, our client is not a flight risk, as he is widely recognizable, and a prominent member of the music industry. Likewise, Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s is clearly not a danger to the community, and in fact, his contributions to local communities and schools that he grew up in are examples of the type of immigrant we want in America."
- Dina LaPolt, another one of 21 Savage's lawyers, thinks this is all a mix-up. "We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding," she explained in a statement.
The Public's Response
- On social media, many people responded to 21 Savage's arrest by creating memes depicting the trapper rapper with a UK spin.
- Demi Lovato faced backlash after tweeting that she found amusement in the memes joking about 21 Savage's situation. Wale challenged her, tweeting: "Why is somebody freedom funny ... I don’t get the joke." She deleted her tweet and deactivated her account after the strong negative response. Tory Lanez later came to her defense.
- Tomi Lahren also mocked 21's situation, only to be checked by Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and The Game, whose response was extremely vulgar.
- Others, like Offset, offered support, many empathizing with 21 Savage's family (the rapper has three children) and citing the positive work he's done in Atlanta. J. Cole says he's praying for his "A Lot" collaborator.
- Chris Brown shared a meme that mocks 21 Savage's situation, he was checked by Offset. Brown responded aggressively.
- 21 Savage's mother broke her silence on Tuesday (Feb. 5), shunning those who've made light of her son's current predicament. "It's a damn shame when we live in a world where people thrive off and feed negative energy.. laugh at others who are going through real life challenges, fighting for their lives & freedom...sick of it!"
The Fight For Freedom
- Jay-Z made headlines on Wednesday (Feb. 6) when word got out that he's hired a lawyer to work on 21 Savage's case.
- Congressman Henry C. "Hank" Johnson tweeted an endorsement letter to ICE in support of 21 Savage, writing that he is a “remarkable young man” who “spends his time giving back to our community and has been living a life of paying it forward.”
- Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted anti-ICE lyrics that 21 Savage performed during his appearance on The Tonight Show—seemingly a show of support for the rapper.
- Activist Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, started a petition demanding for 21 Savage's release. As of Thursday night (Feb. 7), the petition has more than 360,000 digital signatures. Its goal has been boosted from 200,000 supporters to 400,000. You can sign here.
See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of 21 Savage at 2016 XXL Freshman Class Cover Shoot