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21 Savage wins release, but thousands of other immigrants denied bond remain in ICE custody


21 Savage, the British-born rapper who was arrested by immigration officials on Super Bowl Sunday, was granted a release on bond Tuesday afternoon after nine days in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, according to a statement from his attorney’s office. The rapper is expected to be released from an Atlanta detention center on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

While in custody, the Atlanta-based rapper joined tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants detained every day by ICE without bail, but most of those immigrants aren’t successful in gaining release on bond, according to a new study from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

The rapper, known legally as She-yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, entered the United States illegally in 2005 and stayed in the country after his nonimmigrant visa expired a year later, according to ICE officials. He was convicted of federal drug charges in 2014, which ICE cited as part of his arrest.

The particulars of the rapper’s immigration issue — a visa overstay — reflect a trend in how unauthorized immigrants enter the country. According to research from the Center for Migration Study, two-thirds of the recent undocumented immigrant population entered the U.S. on valid visas, then stayed in the country after that visa expired.

On Tuesday afternoon, 21 Savage’s legal team said in a statement that the rapper had been granted release from custody on bail and was being placed into expedited deportation proceedings.

“He will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country,” his attorneys, Charles Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro, wrote in a Facebook post published Tuesday. “And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”

Last week, fellow rapper Jay-Z announced that his entertainment company, Roc Nation, had enlisted legal assistance for 21 Savage. Roc Nation, which was founded by Jay-Z in 2008, pointed out that days before his arrest 21 Savage had released an extended version of his single “A Lot,” which is about immigration injustice.

“‘Been through some things so I can’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.’ This is no coincidence,” Roc Nation tweeted last week, quoting 21 Savage’s new single.

Kuck Baxter Immigration, the law office representing 21 Savage, confirmed the Facebook post and referred questions to FYI Brand Group, which did not immediately return an email requesting comment.

Since President Trump took office, the rate at which immigration judges granted release on bond has declined, according to a newly released study from TRAC.

In October and November 2018 — the first two months of the immigration court’s 2019 year — judges decided on just under 8,500 bail hearings, granting release to 43 percent of undocumented immigrants seeking relief. That’s down from a 48 percent average in 2018 and a 51 percent average in 2017, according to TRAC.

Tuesday morning’s study also found that the chances of being granted bail by an immigration judge varied drastically depending on nationality. Immigrants from India had the highest success rate for being granted release on bail in 2018, successfully gaining release on bail 87 percent of the time, according to TRAC. Immigrants from Central American countries Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala found significantly lower success rates: 44, 44 and 45 percent, respectively, according to TRAC.

Only 23.5 percent of unauthorized immigrants from the United Kingdom, like 21 Savage, were granted release on bond in 2018, according to TRAC.