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- Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested rapper 21 Savage on Sunday, the agency confirmed to INSIDER.
- The agency said the rapper, who previously claimed that he grew up in Atlanta, is actually from the United Kingdom and overstayed his visa.
- ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told INSIDER that the rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was taken into custody as part of a “targeted operation.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 21 Savage in Atlanta on Sunday, accusing the rapper of being a UK citizen who lived in the US illegally for years, the agency confirmed to INSIDER in a statement.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said the rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was taken into custody with the help of local and federal law-enforcement officers as part of a “targeted operation” after he overstayed a visa that expired in 2006.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts,” Cox said. “ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions.”
Cox added that Abraham-Joseph initially entered the country legally in July 2005, but didn’t leave when his visa expired one year later. Cox said Abraham-Joseph was also convicted in Georgia on felony drug charges in October 2014.
Cox reportedly told CNN’s Nick Valencia, “His whole public persona is false.”
CNN also reported that Abraham-Joseph wasn’t even intentionally targeted by ICE on Sunday. Instead, officers came across Abraham-Joseph because he was in the same car as another rapper who was the target of a criminal arrest.
Once the officers learned of Abraham-Joseph’s immigration status, they arrested him, according to CNN
The news stunned Abraham-Joseph’s fans, many of whom assumed he had been born in the US. The rapper has long spoken of his upbringing in Atlanta, even rapping that he was “straight up out the 6” in his song “Bank Account,” referring to Atlanta’s Zone 6.
Abraham-Joseph was even included in an Atlanta Magazine article saying he had “paid homage” to the city in an event at the State Farm Arena alongside Georgia-based rapper Ludacris and group Migos..