Jay-Z is helping out 21 Savage as he remains detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for overstaying his visa. According to ICE, the rapper is a convinced felon and illegally stayed when his visa expired in 2006.
In a statement to Billboard through his representative, Jay-Z voiced support for the 26-year-old.
“The arrest and detention of 21 Savage is an absolute travesty, his U-visa petition has been pending for 4 years,” the statement said. “In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately, #Free21Savage.”
Savage, whose birth name is Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested Feb. 3 in a “targeted operation” meant to arrest another rapper, Young Nudy, who faces aggravated assault and gang charges.
Charles Kuck, an attorney for Abraham-Joseph, said his client does not have a conviction, despite ICE’s claim that he is a convicted felon.
“There is no conviction on his record,” Kuck told Billboard. “Period.”
A statement from ICE released the day of Abraham-Joseph’s arrest said he was convicted on felony drug charges in 2014 in Georgia. But that’s been disputed by Jacoby Hudson, the lawyer who worked with Abraham-Joseph to get his record expunged.
“He’s not a convicted felon, so they reported that wrong from their 2014 arrest,” Hudson told Complex. “That arrest should be expunged. He has no felony convictions.”
Attorneys for the rapper released another statement Tuesday that said in part:
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was born in the United Kingdom. Mr. Abraham-Joseph arrived legally in the United States at the age of 7. He remained in the United States until 2005, when he departed for approximately one month to visit the United Kingdom. He returned to the United States under a valid H-4 visa on July 22, 2005. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad. Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph's legal status expired through no fault of his own. ...
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was placed into deportation proceedings AFTER his arrest, he was not in deportation proceedings prior to this detention by ICE. DHS has known his address since the filing of a U visa application in 2017. He has never hidden from DHS or any of its agencies.”
Jay-Z isn’t the only person to voice public support for Abraham-Joseph. Meek Mill, Cardi B, Offset, Killer Mike and others have spoken out.