Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested Grammy-nominated rap artist 21 Savage for allegedly “overstaying” his visa. The rapper, who, in many of his songs claimed to be “born and bred” in Atlanta, Georgia, is, ICE says, actually a British national.
CNN reports that ICE believes the rapper, whose real name is Shayaabin Abraham-Joseph, entered the United States legally some time in 2005, but was required to leave after his visa expired exactly one year later. At that point, 21 Savage should have either renewed his visa or applied for some other form of temporary citizenship.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts,” ICE said in a statement to CNN and other major media outlets. “ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions.”
If he’s found guilty, there is a possibility that he could be deported back to the U.K. because he has a felony conviction stemming from a 2014 drug arrest.
Some Twitter users had conspiracy theories about 21 Savage’s beef with fellow rapper — and now convicted felon, Tekashi 6ix9ine — who fans are convinced revealed 21 Savage’s immigration status while negotiating a plea bargain with prosecutors over his role in a drug trafficking ring. 21 Savage called Mr. 6ix9ine a “snitch” in a recent Instagram post, leading some fans to believe something had transpired between the pair.
CNN reports, however, that ICE wasn’t looking to arrest 21 Savage; the rapper got caught up in another artist’s criminal proceedings.
“BREAKING- @21savage was in the car with another rapper who was the target of a criminal arrest. 21 was taken into custody by law enforcement after they learned of his immigration status. ‘There is no misunderstanding. 21 Savage is a British National.’: Law Enforcement source,” CNN reporter Nick Valencia, who is covering the story extensively, tweeted.
BREAKING- @21savage was in the car with another rapper who was the target of a criminal arrest. 21 was taken into custody by law enforcement after they learned of his immigration status. “There is no misunderstanding. 21 Savage is a British National.”: Law Enforcement source
— Nick Valencia (@CNNValencia) February 3, 2019
21 Savage’s lawyer says the rapper has a “pending visa,” and that the 2014 conviction was expunged. In 2017, the rapper reportedly filed for a “U-Visa,” a visa set aside for victims of crimes. He and his legal team believe he qualifies for the visa based on a 2013 incident where 21 Savage was shot and his friend was killed, leaving the rapper with longterm physical and mental scars.
The news of 21 Savage’s origins came as something of a shock to 21 Savage’s fans, who thought he was born and raised in Atlanta. The rapper has said previously that the “21” of 21 Savage refers to a street gang in Decatur, Georgia. In his recent hit, “Bank Account,” 21 Savage talks about being “out the 6,” or from Atlanta’s “Zone 6,” a rough neighborhood on the city’s east side.
ICE says that’s pretty much all fake. “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa,” one official told CNN reporter Nick Valencia.
Social media processed their disbelief through memes.
Why y’all 21 Savage like this?! pic.twitter.com/cjoL3W8w1r
— WORLDSTARHIPHOP (@WORLDSTAR) February 3, 2019
21 Savage: “5 foot 5, she my ride or die” pic.twitter.com/UZNfDtPwqL
— Spaghetti Jones (@Dr_Spaghetti_J) February 4, 2019
21 savage: “Don’t come out the house ’cause the gang outside”
The gang: pic.twitter.com/G7QgH8EZW9
— kathryn (@Kat13573937) February 4, 2019
when 21 savage said “everyday that i’m alive, ima ride w the stick” this is what he meant pic.twitter.com/nU3Mpz5Zzb
— roha (@vschoee) February 3, 2019