- Getty Images/Kevin Winter
- The rapper 21 Savage was released on bond from immigration detention on Wednesday, 10 days after he was arrested and placed in deportation proceedings.
- It’s a rare instance of a high-profile deportation case that has shone a spotlight on the plight of young immigrants brought to the US as children, known as Dreamers.
- 21 Savage, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, has a pending U visa application and could be given legal status and eventually a path to citizenship if it’s granted.
- But he also remains in deportation proceedings, and it’s unclear if he’ll have to leave the country if his visa application is rejected.
21 Savage was released on bond from detention on Wednesday, 10 days after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency arrested him in a rare high-profile deportation case that sparked nationwide attention.
The rapper, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, 26, was detained by ICE on February 3 and placed in deportation proceedings. ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told INSIDER in a statement that day that Abraham-Joseph was actually a citizen of the United Kingdom, and was accused of overstaying a US visa that expired in July 2006.
Cox also said Abraham-Joseph had been convicted in Georgia on felony drug charges in October 2014, though his attorneys have said the conviction was expunged from his record.
News of Abraham-Joseph’s immigration status initially prompted shock and some ridicule among some of his fans, who hadn’t realized he was British. The rapper is known for his Georgia upbringing and often refers to Atlanta in his music.
Despite the initial jokes about Abraham-Joseph’s nationality, the levity gave way to a more serious discourse about the fate young unauthorized immigrants known as Dreamers, who were brought to the US as children through no fault of their own.
- The Washington Post/Melina Mara via Getty Images
Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys said in a February 5 statement that Abraham-Joseph was brought to the US at age 7 under a temporary H-4 visa, and had no replacement when it expired.
Though Abraham-Joseph was not among the 700,000 immigrants protected by former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he is one of the estimated 1.8 million Dreamers who were brought to the US during childhood.
21 Savage still faces deportation – here’s what could happen next
Abraham-Joseph’s case reveals just how complex it is for unauthorized immigrants to adjust to a legal status, no matter how long they’ve lived in the United States, and how deeply rooted their lives and careers are.
Though Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys said he has three American children, a mother who holds a US green card, and siblings who are either citizens or green-card holders, he has been unable to secure legal status for himself.
In 2017, Abraham-Joseph applied for a special visa reserved for victims of crimes who can help law-enforcement officials investigate or prosecute criminal activity. His attorneys said he filed the application after a 2013 shooting. He was shot six times and his friend was killed in the incident, according to Vice’s Noisey News.
That visa application remains pending, according to his attorneys, though if granted, Abraham-Joseph would receive legal status and could eventually be put on a path to citizenship.
- Prince Williams/Wireimage
But the Trump administration has cracked down on the U visa program. Immigration attorneys and advocates have reported cases similar to that of Abraham-Joseph, where immigrants have been deported while their U visa applications are still pending.
Since Abraham-Joseph’s deportation case is still pending while he goes free on bond, it’s unclear if he could ultimately be deported before his visa is granted.
In a statement on Tuesday, Abraham-Joseph’s immigration attorneys said the plight of the thousands of other incarcerated immigrants across the country wasn’t lost on him.
“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,” his lawyers wrote. “He asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”
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