American or British? Rapper 21 Savage arrested by US immigration – The Guardian

  • Authorities say musician is British national who overstayed visa
  • Rapper held early on Sunday in Super Bowl city
  • Star is nominated for two awards at Grammys next week

21 Savage at YouTube Space LA in 2017.

21 Savage at YouTube Space LA in 2017.
Photograph: Timothy Norris/Getty Images

The Grammy-nominated, Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage has been arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who said he was in the country illegally.

Authorities said the musician was a British national who had entered the US legally in 2005 but failed to leave under the terms of a non-immigrant visa.

The rapper, whose given name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was placed in removal proceedings.

Ice said Abraham-Joseph was arrested as part of a “targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners”. Bryan Cox, Ice southern regional spokesman, confirmed the arrest to local Atlanta station WSB TV. “Mr Abraham-Joseph was taken into Ice custody as he is unlawfully present in the US and also a convicted felon,” Cox said.

An Ice statement said Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in Fulton county, Georgia, in October 2014. He has been affiliated with the Atlanta music scene and performed in the city as recently as Thursday, as part of the Super Bowl Music Fest at State Farm Arena.

The statement said Ice would “await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions”.

An attorney for Abraham-Joseph, Dina LaPolt, told the website TMZ lawyers were “working diligently to get Mr Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding.

“Mr Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in the country,” she said, “especially in Atlanta, and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”

21 Savage has been nominated for two awards at the 2019 Grammys, including record of the year for Rockstar with Post Malone. In December his second album, I Am > I Was, debuted at No1 on the US Billboard 200.

On Friday he released a video for the album’s lead track, a lot, which mentions border family separation.

Abraham-Joseph’s place of birth could not immediately be determined, although some listings named it as Dominica, a former British colony. Ice did not immediately return a request for comment.

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