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ICE Wanted To Deport 21 Savage On An “Aggravated Felony” Charge — But They Just Dropped It

The rapper, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is still going through deportation proceedings.

Posted on February 13, 2019, at 2:09 p.m. ET

Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

US government attorneys dropped an “aggravated felony” charge as grounds to deport the rapper 21 Savage from the country in immigration court on Tuesday, his attorneys told BuzzFeed News.

ICE attorneys bring civil, rather than criminal, violations of immigration law in immigration court as means to deport immigrants, based on each individual's background.

The rapper, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was taken into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on Feb. 3. He was released Wednesday on bond. An expedited hearing will be held in immigration court at a later date.

At the time of his arrest, ICE officials told local media that the rapper had been convicted of felony drug charges in 2014. His attorneys have said before that the information was false, pointing out that the conviction was later vacated.

ICE officials did not respond to a request for comment.

The government is now pursuing his deportation only on the grounds that he had come from the UK at the age of 7 and had overstayed a visa, according to Charles Kuck, managing partner of Kuck Baxter Immigration, who represents the rapper.

“I think this case is emblematic of a lot of cases where people are detained for not correct reasons, but they don’t always have resources to fight the system,” he said. “This case is very emblematic of what happens in immigration court and detention.”

Since the moment of his arrest, his attorneys have claimed that he had no conviction in state or federal court. Abraham-Joseph, they said, arrived to the country in 2005 on a valid visa and “lost his legal status” through no fault of his own.

In the meantime, the rapper had applied for a U visa — which provides a pathway to status for individuals who are victims of crime and help law enforcement — in connection with a 2013 shooting, according to his attorneys. He has three children, who are US citizens.

After securing the rapper’s release, the attorneys shared a message on behalf of the rapper to his fans, thanking them for their support.

"He says that while he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together," they said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.