Rapper 21 Savage is attempting to clear up his immigration timeline after he was arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) over the weekend.
The Blast reports that the 26-year-old released a statement through his representatives revealing that yes, he was born in the United Kingdom — but that he has actually lived in the United States since he was 7 years old. He claims he left for a month in 2005 and came back but had a valid visa.
ICE has claimed that he came to the country for the first time in 2005 at the age of 12.
According to his birth certificate published by Reuters, 21 Savage, whose real name is Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was born in Newham, a borough of London, in October 1992.
The rapper insisted that his legal status expired in 2006 "through no fault of his own" and that he applied for a visa in 2017 when he realized his illegal classification.
His representatives also stress that his family, including his sisters, mother and children, are legally in the United States and that some are citizens. His representatives maintain that he's not a flight risk because his loved ones are in the country, and they plead that he be released from custody so he can defend himself and support his family.
"Like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, [21 Savage] was left without immigration status as a young child with no way to fix his immigration status. These 'Dreamers' come from all walks of life and every ethnicity," his representatives said in the statement.
At the time of the arrest, ICE claimed in a statement that 21 Savage "initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, but sub sequentially failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa and he became unlawfully present in the U.S. when his visa expired in July 2006. In addition to being in violation of federal immigration law, [21 Savage] was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia."
However, a new statement from 21 Savage's representatives argue that ICE was wrong about the federal drug charges: “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has no criminal convictions or charges under state or federal law and is free to seek relief from removal in immigration court. ICE provided incorrect information to the press when it claimed he had a criminal conviction.”
After 21 Savage was arrested, his lawyer, Charles H. Kuck released a statement calling it "a civil law violation," noting that "the continued detention of [21 Savage] 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.
The rapper's team has also claimed there is speculation he was targeted by ICE over recent music he released criticizing immigration and border practices. The music video for his song "A Lot" contained a new verse calling out ICE just days before he was arrested. It included a few new lines about the Trump Administration's immigration policies.0comments
"The lights was out, the gas was out, so we had to boil up the water," he rapped in the new verse. "Been through some things, but I couldn't imagine my kids stuck at the border (straight up) / Flint still need water / n—s was innocent, couldn't get lawyers."
21 Savage is currently in removal proceedings and waiting for his case to be heard in the federal immigration courts.