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, XXLrounds 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.
BREAKING- @ICEgov spokesman tells me @21savage was taken into custody by ICE. “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa.” MORE COMING— Nick Valencia (@CNNValencia) February 3, 2019
His 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.
Yeah he's from Blenheim Gardens https://t.co/kHFemXVqkh— w/ a dab of ranch (@StephGump) April 23, 2018
- 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.
She Most likely never been to the UK just born in Dominica when they were under their rule— Marco 🧸💰 (@MarcoDigital_) February 4, 2019
- 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 be a step father or another male figure in 21’s life.
- According to 21 Savage’s co-manager, Meezy, the artist came to the U.S. earlier than reported. Kei Henderson, 21’s other co-manager, backs up the claim.
Imma say this 1 time … Savage did not come to amaerica as a teen lol… me and him had the same 3rd grade homeroom teacher … shouts to Ms. Scott ..Stone Mountain elementary— Stone Mound Meezy (@MEGAMEEZY) February 4, 2019
Savage has been in Atlanta since he was a young child. He and my partner @MEGAMEEZY went to the same elementary school.— Kei (@keiopensdoors) February 4, 2019
- 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 Response
- On social media, many people responded to 21 Savage’s arrest by creating memes depicting the trapper rapper with a UK spin.
Nobody:— Cris 🌊 (@criss_349) February 4, 2019
21 savage: pic.twitter.com/4F5sQsfvr7
- 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.
- Tomi Lahren also mocked 21’s situation, only to be addressed by both Nicki Minaj and Cardi B.
I got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight ICE agents ready to deport ya. https://t.co/tivP1Ljj8V— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) February 3, 2019
Don’t make me get my leash https://t.co/ErQ2RhzDeg— iamcardib (@iamcardib) February 4, 2019
Your obsession w/our culture is scary to say the least. I hate giving you the attention you so desperately crave. Laughing @ ppl getting deported as if your ancestors discovered America. Are you Native American? You fkn clown. https://t.co/7m0fYnubkq— QUEEN (@NICKIMINAJ) February 4, 2019
- Others, like Offset, offered support.
ALL THE MEMES AND SHIT AINT FUNNY WHEN SOMEBODY GOING THROUGH SOME— OFFSET (@OffsetYRN) February 4, 2019
PRAYING FOR MY DAWG
AINT SHIT FUNNY HIS FANILY
DEPENDING ON HIM