Since his arrest on Sunday night, the particulars of 21 Savage‘s legal situation have been murky. According to a Tuesday evening statement from his legal team, headed by immigration lawyer Charles H. Kuck, that’s in part because previous statements from ICE contributed to the confusion by providing misinformation.
According to the statement, the Atlanta rapper (real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) does not have any convictions to his name, contradicting a claim made earlier by ICE. The statement further corrects the age at which Abraham-Joseph entered the United States: While earlier reports, following ICE’s lead, said he arrived in this country at age 14, according to Abraham-Joseph’s team he was just 7.
The statement also confirms, in the plainest terms to date, some of the key details of Abraham-Joseph’s life. His lawyers say that he was born in the United Kingdom, but has resided here for the vast majority of his life: “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad. Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph lost his legal status through no fault of his own.”
The statement notes that Abraham-Joseph’s 2017 application for a U Visa, which protects victims of crime and their families, is still pending. Only 10,000 of these are issued per year, so it’s typical that the wait to receive one can last years.
In its conclusion, Abraham-Joseph’s legal team suggest that strictly enforcing immigration laws may not have been ICE’s only motivating factor in Sunday’s arrest. “Many have speculated as to possible ulterior motives for his arrest and detention, including that he released music five days prior to his arrest by ICE, which included new lyrics condemning the behavior of immigration officials for their detention of children at the border,” the statement reads. “We are unaware of why ICE apparently targeted Mr. Abraham-Joseph.”
Read the full statement below.
Atlanta, GA – February 5, 2019 – There has been a great deal of misreporting in the case of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, known professionally as 21 Savage. Conjecture and misinformation help no one make good decisions and leads to false conclusions. Here are the facts:
Mr. Abraham-Joseph was born in the United Kingdom. Mr. Abraham-Joseph arrived legally in the United states at the age of 7. He remained in the United States until 2005, when he departed for approximately one month to visit the United Kingdom. He returned to the United States under a valid H-4 visa on July 22, 2005. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad. Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s legal status expired through no fault of his own.
Mr. Abraham-Joseph, like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, 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. 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.
Mr. Abraham-Joseph has three US 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. ICE has the ability to set a bond and conditions of release on cases exactly like this. ICE routinely grants bond to individuals in Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s circumstances, specifically individuals who have overstayed a prior valid visa and have relief from deportation under federal law. There is no chance that Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a flight risk. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is not a “danger” to the community as his acts of philanthropy and good will, as well as his music, continue to improve the communities from which he comes.
Mr. Abraham-Joseph has a pending U visa application with the USCIS. This U visa was filed as a result of being the victim of a deadly shooting in 2013. That visa was filed in 2017 and remains pending. When granted, the U visa will afford him lawful status in the United States. Generally, ICE has recognized a pending facially valid U visa as a basis to delay removal proceedings and release individuals from custody.
There continues to be no legal reason to detain Mr. Abraham-Joseph for a civil law violation that occurred when he was a minor, especially when people in his exact situation are routinely released by ICE. Many have speculated as to possible ulterior motives for his arrest and detention, including that he released music five days prior to his arrest by ICE, which included new lyrics condemning the behavior of immigration officials for their detention of children at the border. 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.