"He has exceptionally strong ties in the United States."
The rapper, real name Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Atlanta on Sunday. At the time of his arrest, it was claimed that he arrived in the US in July 2005 aged 12 and failed to leave when his visa expired a year later.
Now, his legal team have confirmed that the star was born in Newham, East London after a birth certificate was sourced by Reuters. Speaking through his representatives, the rapper has confirmed that he moved to the United States when he was 7 years old, before departing in 2005 to visit the United Kingdom, and returning later that month.
He says that his legal right to remain expired in 2006 “through no fault of his own” and he applied for a visa in 2017 once he discovered that it was a legal requirement.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has three U.S. Citizen children, a lawful permanent resident mother and four siblings that are either US Citizens or lawful permanent residents. He has exceptionally strong ties in the United States, having lived here since he was in the first grade,” a new statement confirms.
“Because of his length of residence in the United States and his immediate relatives, Mr. Abraham-Joseph is eligible to seek Cancellation of Removal from an Immigration Judge.”
The statement adds: “Mr. Abraham-Joseph was placed into deportation proceedings AFTER his arrest, he was not in deportation proceedings prior to this detention by ICE. DHS has known his address since the filing of a U visa application in 2017. He has never hidden from DHS or any of its agencies. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is not subject to mandatory detention under federal law and is eligible for bond.
“By statute, bond should be granted by ICE when there is no flight risk or a danger to the community… We are unaware of why ICE apparently targeted Mr. Abraham-Joseph, but we will do everything possible to legally seek his release and pursue his available relief in immigration court.”
At the time of his initial arrest, ICE claimed that he arrived in 2005 and failed to leave a year later. They also confirmed that he was being detained ahead of a bid to secure his deportation.
In a separate statement released yesterday, his legal team described the arrest as a “civil law violation.”
Yesterday, the rapper also secured support from Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson and the Black Lives Matter movement. The latter claimed that his arrest followed a pattern of discrimination against black immigrants in the US.
“The circumstances of Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s detention stand as a testament to the consistent and historically under-reported harassment and targeting of Black immigrants. The US’ violent history of criminalizing Blackness intersects with its deadly legacy of detaining and deporting Black and Brown immigrants. This needs to stop today!,” the group said in a statement.