Rapper 21 Savage is being wrongly held by US immigration officials, his lawyer has said.
The Grammy-nominated musician was arrested on Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia, after being accused by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of overstaying his visa and being in the country illegally.
ICE says 21 Savage, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is a British national who moved to the States aged 12 in 2005.
He is currently in custody in Georgia while awaiting a federal immigration judge to determine what happens next.
In a statement on Monday, Charles H Kuck, of law firm Kuck Baxter Immigration, said authorities had known of 21 Savage’s status since at least 2017, when he applied for a visa for victims of crime.
Mr Huck said the rapper was being held on “incorrect information” and had never “hid his immigration status from the US government”.
21 Savage, who ICE says has a felony drugs conviction from 2014, should be freed because he is not a “flight risk” or danger to the US public, Mr Huck said.
The statement added: “This is a civil law violation, and the continued detention of Mr Abraham-Joseph serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States.
“He rose above the difficult circumstances of his youth to achieve success and make contributions to our society that rival any of those by a natural born citizen. Mr Abraham-Joseph has US citizen children that he supports and is eligible for relief from deportation.
“We and he will fight for his release, for his family, and his right to remain in our country. No one would expect less from him.”
ICE has been approached for comment.
After news of his detainment broke, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office said: “Our staff are in contact with the lawyer of a British man following his detention in the US.”
21 Savage is closely associated with the hip-hop scene of Atlanta and news of his alleged true nationality sparked shock online, which soon translated into Twitter memes poking fun at his “Britishness”.
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.
The 26-year-old released a new music video on Friday for his song A Lot featuring J Cole, from his new album I Am > I Was, which was released in December.
The record, his second studio album, reached 33 in the UK albums chart and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200.
He has collaborated with the likes of Drake, Cardi B, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino, and was previously in a relationship with model and actress Amber Rose.
Cardi B is among the stars to lend her support to 21 Savage online, praising him for being “very positive in his actions and music”.
A petition has been created calling for 21 Savage to be released and as of Monday had attracted more than 63,000 signatures.