In the wake of his arrest by immigration officials, 21 Savage says he’ll fight “all the way to the last day” to stay in Atlanta.
The 26-year-old rapper opened up about his battle to stay in the country in a lengthy interview with the New York Times Sunday, and admitted he only became aware that his status as a citizen was not settled when he became a teenager and couldn’t partake in the same milestones as his friends.
“[I found out] probably like the age when you start to get your driver’s license. I couldn’t never take driver’s ed, I couldn’t never go get a job,” he said.
Savage, who was born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Feb. 3.
Officials said the musician was taken into custody because he was an “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” who legally entered the country in 2005, but did not leave one year later as he was supposed to.
Savage remained in ICE custody for 10 days before he was released on $100,000 bond last Wednesday.
In the interview, the rapper said he eventually learned to live with the uncertainty that accompanied his unsettled status because completing the task “felt impossible” — though he knew in the back of his mind it could one day come back to haunt him.
“It’s like my worst nightmare. That’s why it’s always been trying to get corrected,” he said. “Even if you got money, it ain’t easy. It ain’t no favoritism, and I respect it, I honestly respect it. It would be kind of messed up if they treated rich immigrants better than poor immigrants, I think.”
21 Savage said that while in custody, he grappled with the idea of having to leave his house and his favorite restaurant should he have to uproot his life and move across the pond.
“If you tell me, ‘I’ll give you 20 million to go stay somewhere you ain’t never stayed,’ I’d rather be broke. I’ll sit in jail to fight to live where I’ve been living my whole life,” he said.
“I got three kids, my mama, everything that I know is here in Atlanta. I’m not leaving Atlanta without a fight. We gon’ fight all the way till the last day even if that mean I sit in jail for 10 years.”
Savage was still in custody during the Grammy Awards, meaning he was forced to miss celebrating his nominations and performing with his “Rockstar” collaborator Post Malone.
Still, the star says he had bigger fish to fry.
“I was stressed about getting out. The Grammys is the Grammys, but when you in jail, the Grammys is nothing. I got to watch it. By that time they had put a TV in my room,” he told the Times.
Hopefully his legal team will have success with his case.