Add a very big name to the list of prominent artists offering support to rapper 21 Savage, who remains in custody following his Sunday arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately," industry powerhouse Jay Z told TMZ, adding that his company has hired additional legal help.
This follows action from U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, who penned a letter to whichever judge ends up ruling in the case.
Johnson’s letter acknowledges straight away that the artist, whose given name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is not a U.S. citizen, but says the father of three is an exemplary citizen nonetheless.
“She’yaa was born outside of the United States and moved here at a very young age with his parents, sister and brother,” Johnson’s letter reads. “He was raised and spent his formative years in and around Atlanta, and he has developed deep family roots and personal ties to our wonderful state of Georgia, and to Gwinnett and DeKalb counties in particular. She’yaa’s immediate family members residing there include his mother, three sisters, two brothers and three children. She’yaa is the primary breadwinner for most of his siblings, and for his children.”
Abraham-Joseph’s current legal team also stipulates that he is not a U.S. citizen, but disputes some of the information federal officials have released about the case.
Federal authorities say Abraham-Joseph was convicted of felony drug charges in 2014 in Fulton County. His lawyers say he “has no criminal convictions.”
Asked for clarification, Fulton County cited the section of the Georgia code that deals with restricting access to first-offender records: “In accordance with Georgia Code Section 42-8-62.1 this case was sealed and we cannot confirm or deny any information about the disposition of the matter.”
“We’re not going to provide anything else on this,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in response to the lawyers’ statement.
21 Savage is nominated for two Grammy awards but likely will not be able to attend this Sunday’s event.
An online petition launched by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors has logged more than 200,000 virtual signatures.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been in the United States since he was a young child,” reads the petition, which is supported by various other organizations. “Atlanta is his home. He has no current or prior criminal convictions and he is beloved by his friends, fans and family. It is shameful that he and so many Black immigrants are separated from their families on a daily basis as part of the US's heartless and racist immigration policies.”
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