Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z has joined calls for the release of rapper 21 Savage after he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after the agency discovered he had overstayed a visa that lapsed in 2006.
ICE officials announced that the Georgia-based rapper was brought to the U.S. from Britain by his mother when he was a child. But ICE noted that the “No Heart” rapper’s visa expired in 2005 when he was a 13-year-old boy, but he did not return to Britain.
Days later, entertainment mogul Jay-Z came forward to represent the British rapper who has for years claimed he grew up in Atlanta. The “Hard Knock Life” rapper said he directed his company, Roc Nation, to direct attorney Alex Spiro to help 21 Savage, whose real name is Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph. Jay-Z called the arrest’s arrest an “absolute travesty” in a statement.
“The arrest and detention of 21 Savage is an absolute travesty,” Jay-Z said in a statement, “his U visa petition has been pending for four years. In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately, #Free21Savage.”
For his part, 21 Savage has released a statement contradicting the ICE accusation. Savage says that he was brought to the U.S. as a seven-year-old boy and went back to the U.K. in 2005 as his visa was expiring. He then returned to the U.S. but claims that his visa status lapsed “through no fault of his own.”
Savage also claims that he was only arrested because of his pro-illegal immigration song, “A Lot.”
“Many have speculated as to possible ulterior motives for his arrest and detention, including that he released music five days prior to his arrest by ICE, which included new lyrics condemning the behavior of immigration officials for their detention of children at the border,” the rapper’s statement read according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, despite his former claims to have been raised in Georgia, the hip hop star’s lawyers now admit that he was born in Britain in 1996, according to Page Six.
In a full statement on his legal status, Savage’s lawyers said, “Mr. Abraham-Joseph was born in the United Kingdom. Mr. Abraham-Joseph arrived legally in the United States at the age of 7 under an H-4 visa. He remained in the United States until June 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 lost his legal status through no fault of his own.”
His lawyers went on to proclaim that Savage is a “Dreamer” whose status lapsed but that he had “no way to fix his immigration status” because he was only a child.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.