21 Savage Says He Was 'Definitely Targeted' by ICE, Fears Deportation
The 26-year-old rapper, whose real name is She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested on Feb. 3. for allegedly staying in the U.S. after his visa expired in 2006.
Rapper 21 Savage say he was “definitely targeted” by ICE, adding he is concerned about deportation in a new interview.
"My mama told me to picture where I wanna be," 21 Savage, whose real name is She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, said in an interview with "Good Morning America." “She said, 'Visualize yourself, whatever you wanna do, just close your eyes and visualize yourself doing that. And as long as you do that, you will never be in jail.'"
The 26-year-old rapper, who is a U.K. citizen, was arrested on Feb. 3. for allegedly staying in the U.S. after his visa expired in 2006.
"I was just driving. And I just seen guns and blue lights. And, then, I was in the back of a car. And I was gone,” Abraham-Joseph said of his arrest. "It was definitely targeted. There was helicopters.”
The Grammy-nominated rapper, who was released on Wednesday, said he arrived in the U.S. initially at 7 years old but returned to the U.K. for an uncle’s funeral in 2005.
"I didn't even know what a visa was," Abraham-Joseph said. "I was 7 when I first came here. And we had left in, like, 2005 'cause my uncle died, my Uncle Foster. So we went back to go to his funeral, and, then, we came back," he said. "So that's why I think [ICE] got it confused where they thought, like, that was my first coming."
The rapper also said he has limited memories in the U.K. because he was so young when he left.
"I've been Atlanta probably 20 years, 19 years. I'm from Atlanta, in my eyes,” he added.
When asked if he fears deportation, Abraham-Joseph replied, “Yeah, but I feel like I done been through so much in my life, like, I learned to embrace the times when I'm down 'cause they always build me up and take me to a new level in life."
Earlier this week, Jay-Z hired attorney Alex Spiro to help the rapper with his legal status alongside Abraham-Joseph’s own attorneys.
"The arrest and detention of 21 Savage is an absolute travesty, his U visa petition has been pending for 4 years. In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately, #Free21Savage," Jay-Z said in a statement to ABC News.
Spiro also added that the rapper’s case is a situation common among Dreamers, people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
"When She'yaa came to this country he was 7 years old and entering the first grade. He was one of many Dreamers – of all walks of life and ethnicities – that came to this country to seek a better life and to contribute meaningfully to his community. He has done that. And more," Spiro said on Monday.
"We remain concerned that She'yaa – and many like him – go to bed concerned about being ripped away from their families, even when they are acting in good faith and contributing to our country. That cannot be right. And that is why we decided to help."
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told ABC News Thursday that ICE did not make the decision to release the rapper, but rather that was decided by the immigration courts.
"We don't make bond decisions," Cox said. "All I can say is, ICE is a law enforcement agency and ICE respects the decisions of the courts."
Earlier, he said the rapper was taken into custody for overstaying his visa. "Long story short, he came in 2005 legally, however, he subsequently failed to deport," Cox said. "His visa expired in 2006 he has been in the country unlawfully ever since."
ICE did not comment on Abraham-Joseph's assertion he had been in the U.S. prior to 2005.
Abraham-Joseph had previously said he was from Decatur, Georgia. He has three children who are all U.S. citizens.
He is known for giving back to his community and has hosted a handful of initiatives around the Atlanta area.
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