A lawyer for rapper 21 Savage says he will fight to stay in the United States after an arrest by immigration agents who say he is British and in the U.S. illegally, BBC reported.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox confirmed to USA TODAY that the 26-year-old musician, who was born in the United Kingdom as Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was placed in federal immigration Sunday custody following a “targeted operation” in Atlanta.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement also say the musician is a convicted felon. His lawyer, however, accused the U.S. authorities of trying to “intimidate” the rapper into leaving.
Attorney Charles Kuck said in a statement on Monday that the arrest was “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges” and that his client had never tried to conceal his immigration status from authorities.
In 2017, he applied for a U.S. “U Visa” on the basis that he had been the “victim of crime”, his lawyer said. U Visas are given to non-citizen victims of crime who intend to co-operate with US authorities.
In 2013, the rapper was shot six times on his 21st birthday in an attack that took the life of his best friend. Kuck added the rapper is “not a flight risk” and is a “prominent member of the music industry” who would be recognized if he attempted to flee.
The lawyer said the rapper also has U.S.-born children, which Kuck argued should prevent his client’s deportation. “ICE has not charged Mr Abraham-Joseph with any crime,” his lawyer continued.
The lawyer accused U.S. immigration officials of trying to “unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States.”
Abraham-Joseph was detained by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal law enforcement agency. A fellow musician, Quantavious Thomas, known as Young Nudy, was also arrested during the traffic stop, BBC adds.