Jay-Z called the Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage’s arrest and detention “an absolute travesty” and has hired a lawyer to save the rapper from deportation in a complex case involving an expired U visa and slamming of immigration officials.
Savage, whose real name is Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is a British citizen who moved to America with his family in 1999 when he was seven years old. He traveled back to the U.K. in July 2005 for a visit when he was 12 and returned to the U.S. with his family later that month. According to Newsweek, his visa expired the following year in 2006.
On Sunday, he was arrested and detained by ICE officers over the expired U visa, which denotes nonimmigrant status and is reserved for victims of mental and physical abuse while in the U.S.
The “Ghostface Killers” rapper had survived a shooting in 2013.
Jay Z has hired a legal team for 21 Savage to assist him in his ICE arrest pic.twitter.com/22Q9yhgCNh
— HIP HOP FACTS (@DailyRapFacts) February 6, 2019
Savage’s lawyer filed for a U visa four years ago after his drug conviction was vacated by the judge, and the request was neither approved nor denied. The rapper reapplied in 2017, according to a statement issued by his attorney, Charles H. Knuck.
The resulting background check revealing the expired visa may have led to his arrest. An ICE official accused Savage of living a lie and told CNN, “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa.”
On Facebook, Jay-Z demanded that “In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately,” and added the hashtag, #Free21Savage.
The music mogul hired New York Attorney Alex Spiro to assist with Savage’s legal team.
Spiro denied ICE’s claims that Savage has a criminal record. The rapper was charged with drug offenses in 2014, but his legal team confirmed those charges were later cleared from his record. The attorney told TMZ:
“We are not going to stop until he is released, bonded out or in front of a judge … What we have here is someone who overstayed their Visa with an application pending for four years – not a convicted criminal that needs to be detained and removed but, by all accounts a wonderful person, father, and entertainer who has a marijuana offense which was vacated and sealed.”
Savage believes his arrest was motivated by revenge. Five days before his arrest, the rapper released “A Lot” in which the lyrics slammed the behavior of ICE officers for detaining children at the border.
Here’s a sample of the lyrics:
“Been through some things so I can’t imagine my kids stuck at the border. Flint still need water. People was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.”
Nice. 21 Savages arrest is part of a bigger issue. I hope Jay Z use his voice to speak to the bigger issue. 21 is not the only person brought here as a kid now fighting to stay.
— magna (@tresmagnafique) February 7, 2019
Savage is the father of three children who are U.S. citizens.
She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph (@21savage) is currently 26 years old, an engaged father of 3 children who were born in the U.S.
U.K. born Abraham-Joseph has been living in the U.S. since the age of 7. pic.twitter.com/FQQOABJ20V
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) February 6, 2019
This isn’t the first time Jay-Z has come through for his fellow rappers. He came to the defense of rapper Meek Mill who was wrongfully imprisoned for a probation violation in 2017.
Jay Z be coming through for the boys. He got Meek out, now 21. That’s a RN
— 🍭 (@DaishaView) February 7, 2019
People want Jay-Z by their side.
Jay Z is that one big brother everyone wish they had 💯💯💯
— SwazNegger 🌊🌊 (@swaznegger) February 7, 2019
He gave his words legs.
— Temerity Drake (@tsddrake) February 7, 2019
This is why he is Beyoncé’s husband
— Pursuing Greatness (@Lets_talk2018) February 7, 2019
@SikwaneG your man has won me his respect. I better start listening to his music, which album you recommend
— Itumeleng Meko (@Itu_tm) February 8, 2019
Jay Z not a rapper no more, classify him higher! ⚡️💯💵
— Tae Sweat .⚡️💯💵 (@TaeRetro) February 7, 2019
This is one of the reasons i will continue to respect that man
— Logical (@The_Logical_) February 7, 2019
There’s nobody in hip hop that gives back to his community in the way Jay does. True black excellence and empowerment
— Cozy❄️Boy (@CozyBoyOfficial) February 7, 2019
Jay Z been consistently helping heads out in the rap game for years now, more rappers need to model themselves after him
— ♠️YoungestOldhead (@Cal_1500) February 7, 2019
Savage’s manager told TMZ that he’s been in lockup for 23 hours a day since his arrest, and is granted only ten minutes to communicate with his family.