Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, better known as 21 Savage, was arrested Sunday, February 3 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who claims the rapper overstayed his non-immigrant visa and is actually from the United Kingdom.
Savage was said to have been driving recklessly, and allegedly was in possession of a firearm, leading to his arrest. The Atlanta-based rapper had been involved in numerous philanthropic projects in the past couple of years, including launching a charity to teach children financial literacy and hosting a back-to-school drive for students in Atlanta.
The public’s response to Savage’s possible deportation hasn’t been outrage or sympathy, but has been surprise at the fact that he was born in the UK.
A quick search on any social media site over the past few weeks tells the tale— no one had the slightest idea that 21 Savage isn’t originally from Atlanta. Several memes have been made inherently mocking the rapper for being from the UK— one of which Demi Lovato caught backlash for sharing, causing her to deactivate her Twitter account.
ICE officials and publications have focused severely on the notion that Savage has created a false narrative of his own life. Nick Valencia, a correspondent for CNN, tweeted on the night of the rapper’s arrest:
Savage has always claimed Atlanta to be his hometown— a claim corroborated by his attorney, who stated:
“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.”
Savage’s arrest has caused some skepticism among many— this isn’t the first time the rapper has been in legal trouble, and the arrest occurred shortly after the rapper unveiled a third verse to his single “a lot,” containing politically-charged lyrics:
“Went through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border / Flint still need water / [People] was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers…”
Savage’s legal team argues that this may be a possible reason for 21 Savage’s arrest, and said in a statement to PEOPLE:
“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.”
Regardless of the details surrounding the arrest, the incident has had an effect on the community of Atlanta. The rapper had recently become increasingly focused on helping out the city, both through his lyrics and philanthropic endeavors. Savage also has several children in the U.S. that the arrest inevitably separated him from— and will most likely continue to do so in the near future.
Photo courtesy of BBC