Atlanta rapper detained a week before Grammys for which he has two nominations

The Grammy-nominated, Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage has been arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officials who said he was in the country illegally.

Authorities said the musician was a British national who had entered the US legally in 2005 but failed to leave under the terms of a non-immigrant visa, which expired in July 2006.

The rapper, whose given name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was placed in removal proceedings.

Ice said Abraham-Joseph was arrested as part of a “targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners”. Bryan Cox, Ice’s southern regional spokesman, confirmed the arrest to the local Atlanta station WSB TV. “Mr Abraham-Joseph was taken into Ice custody as he is unlawfully present in the US and also a convicted felon,” Cox said.

An Ice statement said Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in Fulton county, Georgia, in October 2014. He performed in Atlanta as recently as Thursday, as part of the Super Bowl Music Fest at the State Farm Arena.

Ice said it would “await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions”. When asked about the case, the British Foreign Office responded: “Our staff are in contact with the lawyer of a British man following his detention in the USA.”

Attorneys for the rapper said on Monday their client was being wrongly held, claiming US officials had known about his immigration status since at least 2017 when he sought a new visa. That application is pending, the attorneys said.

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