21 Savage Is Being Held in ‘One of the Worst Immigration Detention Centers in the U.S.’

The advocacy organization Project South has asked the U.N. to condemn Irwin County Detention Center for “extensive human rights violations”


Four days after 21 Savage’s shocking arrest by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the rapper, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph,remains in custody.

ICE claims the rapper, a British national, has long overstayed his visa and is thus eligible for deportation; Abraham-Joseph’s legal team contends that he has been “continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years” and has a visa application pending. The rapper’s attorneys argue that Mr. Abraham-Joseph is not subject to mandatory detention under federal law and is eligible for bond,” but ICE has not granted Abraham-Joseph bond as of Thursday afternoon.

While he waits, the rapper is being held in Irwin County Detention Center, sources familiar with the situation tell Rolling Stone. Abraham-Joseph’s location was previously reported by The Blast. Irwin, a 1,200-capacity facility located about three hours from Atlanta, has a brutal history — guards are quick to toss detainees into solitary confinement and officials ignore reports of sexual abuse, according to reports from detainees and their attorneys. “It’s a horrendous place and one of the worst immigration detention centers in the U.S.,” says Azadeh Shahshahani, who spent seven years as National Security and Immigrants’ Rights Project Director for the ACLU of Georgia.

21 Savage’s legal team declined to confirm or provide comment on 21 Savage’s location. A representative for ICE, which runs the detention center, declined to confirm Abraham-Joseph’s location, citing agency privacy rules.

Shahshahani has been investigating the treatment of detainees at places like Irwin for over a decade. During her time at the ACLU and then as Legal and Advocacy Director for Project South, an immigrant advocacy group, Shahshahani co-authored several reports on Irwin and its larger sister facility, Stewart Detention Center. Three detainees have died at Stewart in the last two years.

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