NEW YORK • The lawyers battling to save Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage (above) from deportation from the United States appealed on Tuesday for compassion, casting him as one of the blameless 1.8 million "Dreamers" - immigrants brought in illegally as children through no fault of their own.
The 26-year-old chart-topper - real name Sha Yaa Abraham-Joseph - was detained in the southern city of Atlanta on Sunday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who say he is British and has been living in the US illegally after his visa expired in 2006.
"Mr Abraham-Joseph, like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, was left without immigration status as a young child with no way to fix his immigration status," his six attorneys said in a joint statement. "These 'Dreamers' come from all walks of life and every ethnicity."
The statement said 21 Savage arrived in the country at the age of seven and had been in the US continually for almost 20 years, save for a brief trip to Britain in 2005.
They acknowledged that he was British and lost his legal status in the US "through no fault of his own" in 2006, but added that his three children who are American citizens make him eligible for deportation relief.
His lawyers also argue that 21 Savage is no flight risk and that, because of family ties in the US and his length of residence, he is entitled to appeal against deportation and should be released on bail from ICE custody in Georgia.
They denied a claim by ICE that the artist was convicted of felony drug charges in October 2014.
21 Savage is up on Sunday for two Grammys for his work on fellow rapper Post Malone's smash hit Rockstar, including for the major Record of the Year award.
He released his debut studio album, Issa Album, in 2017.