Jay-Z hires lawyer for British rapper 21 Savage over ‘absolute travesty’ deportation threat
Jay-Z has come to the defence of UK-born rapper 21 Savage, describing his arrest and detainment by US immigration authorities as “an absolute travesty” and paying for a lawyer to represent him.
21 Savage, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is a British national who moved to the US aged 12 in 2005 and went on to overstay his visa.
He was arrested in his hometown of Atlanta on Sunday, and his case has become a cause celebre for the music community, with Cardi B, Meek Mill and Offset calling for his release.
21 Savage is nominated for two Grammy Awards at this weekend’s ceremony, including record of the year for the chart-topping track Rockstar with fellow rapper Post Malone.
Jay-Z, 49, announced on Thursday that his entertainment company, Roc Nation, has hired New York-based immigration lawyer Alex Spiro to assist with the case.
"The arrest and detention of 21 Savage is an absolute travesty, his U visa petition has been pending for 4 years,” wrote the Brooklyn-born rapper on his Facebook page.
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"In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately, #Free21Savage."
21 Savage, 26, has three children who are all US citizens.
Mr Spiro told US showbiz website TMZ the legal team will "not stop" until 21 Savage is released.
He also denied ICE’s claims that the rapper has a criminal record. Immigration authorities said on Sunday he was charged with drug offences in 2014, but his legal team say they were subsequently expunged from his record.
Mr Spiro added: "What we have here is someone who overstayed their visa with an application pending for four years – not a convicted criminal that needs to be detained and removed but, by all accounts a wonderful person, father, and entertainer who has a marijuana offence which was vacated and sealed."
The U visa he has applied for is for victims of crime, after his lawyers said he survived a shooting in 2013.