Rapper 21 Savage donates $25K to organization that helped him during ICE arrest

ICE officials said the Grammy-nominated rapper, a British national, overstayed his visa.
Image: 21 Savage attends a listening party in Atlanta, Georgia, on Dec. 21, 2018.
21 Savage attends a listening party in Atlanta, Georgia, on Dec. 21, 2018.Prince Williams / WireImage file

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By Minyvonne Burke

Rapper 21 Savage donated $25,000 to a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that helped him when he was arrested in February by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center will help immigrants being held in detention centers in the Deep South obtain legal counsel, the rapper's attorney, Charles Kuck, said in a press release.

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21 Savage, a British national who was born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was detained Feb. 3 while driving in metro Atlanta.

Although he was brought to the United States legally in 2005 when he was a child, ICE officials said his visa expired the following year and he was left without legal status. His lawyers said the rapper had an application pending for a U visa as a victim of a crime, but did not explain what circumstances led him to apply for it.

Charles Kuck, Willemijn Keizer (SPLC's Director of Institutional Giving), Daniel Werner (Director of SIFI) hold a check from 21 Savage for a $25,000 donation to SPLC following his ICE detainment earlier this year during which several powerful, national organizations came together to fight the injustice by forming a coalition to seek his release.Marisol Estrada / Southern Poverty Law Center

“21 Savage is making this donation public because everyday Americans need to know that ICE is using civil immigration detention as a weapon against immigrants, many of whom, like 21 Savage, have relief from deportation and are able to fix their immigration status," Kuck said in a statement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based nonprofit that specializes in immigration detention and civil rights, assisted the Grammy-nominated artist by transferring documents, obtaining necessary signatures and "forming a coalition" with other national organizations to fight for his release, according to Kuck.

Willemijn Keizer, the organization's director of institutional giving, said the rapper's donation will provide "vital resources" for detained immigrants.

"Only one in six immigrants detained in the Southeast has access to an attorney in removal proceedings. For an immigrant in detention, that legal representation can mean the difference between winning or losing their case — between staying with their family or being forced to return to a place that is no longer home," she said in a statement.

Abraham-Joseph was released on bond from a Georgia detention center on Feb, 12, more than a week after his arrest. The case is still pending with the immigration court, his attorney told NBC News.