As details of 21 Savage’s ICE arrest continue to unfold, the Atlanta-based rapper’s lawyer is speaking out. According to the BBC, attorney Charles Kuck is adamant his client never hid his immigration status.
In a statement, Kuck claims the platinum-selling artist’s arrest was “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges.” In 2014, 21 Savage real name Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was convicted of drug-related charges, although that conviction was reportedly expunged.
Kuck says his client was in the process of obtaining a U visa so he could legally stay in the United States. In 2013, 21 Savage was shot six times on his 21st birthday by a rival gang member in an attempted robbery. The ambush took the life of his little brother, Johnny “Tay-Man” Abraham-Joseph. U visas are granted to non-citizen victims of crime who intend to cooperate with U.S. authorities.
ICE has yet to charge 21 Savage with a crime. Kuck believes he’s simply a victim of his parents’ decision to overstay their work visas. “ICE has not charged Mr. Abraham-Joseph with any crime,” the statement reads. “As a minor, his family overstayed their work visas, and he, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own.
“This is a civil law violation, and the continued detention of Mr. Abraham-Joseph serves no other purposes other than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his fight to fight to remain in the United States.”
Kuck says 21 Savage and his legal team are committed to securing his release so he can move on with his life. He also cites 21’s philanthropic work in the Atlanta community, which includes the 21 Savage Bank Account Campaign. He started the campaign in an effort to improve financial literacy among lower-income neighborhoods.
“He rose above the difficult circumstances of his youth to achieve success and make contributions to our society that rival any of those by a natural born citizen,” Kuck adds. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has US citizen children that he supports and is eligible for relief from deportation. We and he will fight for his release, for his family, and his right to remain in our country. No one would expect less from him.”
To show their support, many of 21’s peers have rallied around him, including Killer Mike, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill, Cardi B and Offset. Additionally, a #Free21Savage petition has been started in an effort to help him stay in the United States. As of press time, the petition has over 9,500 signatures.