Free at Last: Rapper 21 Savage Released From Immigration Custody, Lawyers Say - NBC4 Washington
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Free at Last: Rapper 21 Savage Released From Immigration Custody, Lawyers Say

21 Savage was scheduled to perform at the Grammys, where he was also nominated for two awards, prior to his arrest

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    Free at Last: Rapper 21 Savage Released From Immigration Custody, Lawyers Say
    Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File
    FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, photo, 21 Savage performs at the Voodoo Music Experience in City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. Authorities in Atlanta, Georgia say Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage, whose given name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested in a targeted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation early Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in the Atlanta area.

    Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage was released on bond Tuesday after spending more than a week in federal immigration custody, his lawyers said.

    The rapper, whose given name is She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested during a targeted immigration operation early on Feb. 3. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said at the time that the British citizen had overstayed his visa and had a felony conviction.

    In a statement, lawyers Charles Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro said they've been speaking with ICE since his arrest to "clarify his actual legal standing, his eligibility for bond, and provide evidence of his extraordinary contributions to his community and society."

    They said they received notification in the previous 24 hours, "in the wake of the Grammy Awards at which he was scheduled to attend and perform," that he was granted an expedited hearing.

    ICE Arrests Rapper 21 Savage in ‘Targeted Operation’

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    The rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was taken into custody in a “targeted operation, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told NBC News.

    (Published Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019)

    Abraham-Joseph was nominated for two awards at the Grammys, including record of the year for "Rockstar" alongside Post Malone. His second solo album "I Am I Was," released in December, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

    After his arrest, ICE said Abraham-Joseph entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, when he was 12, but has remained in the country illegally since his visa expired in July 2006. He was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia, ICE said. He was placed in deportation proceedings in federal immigration court.

    Abraham-Joseph's lawyers disputed that. They said last week that Abraham-Joseph came to the U.S. when he was 7 and remained in the country until June 2005, when he went to visit the United Kingdom for a month. He returned on a valid visa on July 22, 2005, they said.

    "Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad," his lawyers said. "Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph lost his legal status through no fault of his own."

    Federal immigration officials have known Abraham-Joseph's status since at least 2017, when he applied for a new visa. That application is pending, his attorneys said.

    The attorneys also said ICE was incorrect that Abraham-Joseph has a felony conviction on his record. Fulton County prosecutors said they could not provide information on that case because it is sealed.

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    Abraham-Joseph's lawyers said he asked them to send a message to his supporters.

    "(H)e says that while he wasn't present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together," they said.

    He added that he "will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them."

    Many supporters who rallied on Abraham-Joseph's behalf had used the hashtag #Free21Savage.