Rapper 21 Savage is arrested; ICE says he’s British and has overstayed his visa

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. -- WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2018: Rapper 21 Savage performs on stage at the Hollywood
Rapper 21 Savage performs onstage at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on June 27, 2018. The rapper was arrested by ICE officials Sunday on suspicion of overstaying his visa.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Rapper 21 Savage faces possible deportation after being arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Sunday morning, an ICE spokesman told The Times.

The 26-year-old, who has long claimed Atlanta as his hometown, was arrested in the city after allegedly overstaying a visa that expired in July 2006. According to ICE, Savage, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, actually hails from the United Kingdom.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon,” said ICE spokesman Bryan Cox. “In addition to being in violation of federal immigration law, Mr. Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Ga.”

Just this past Thursday, Savage joined local Atlanta rappers T.I., Migos, Lil Yachty and Ludacris onstage at a Super Bowl Music Fest concert.


After being taken into custody during a “targeted operation,” Savage has been placed into “removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts.”

“ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions,” Cox reported.

In a statement to The Times, the rapper’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, said: “We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with the authorities to clear up any misunderstandings. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Ga., and is actively working in the community — leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”

The news shocked fans on Twitter, including fellow rapper Vince Staples, who tweeted in support of Savage.


Last week, 21 Savage spoke out against President Trump’s immigration policy and the Flint, Mich., water crisis during a performance on the “Tonight Show.” And with the high-profile spectacle of the Super Bowl providing coverage, many on Twitter are speculating that the arrest is part of a larger ICE operation.


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