At the beginning of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained 21 Savage over his immigration status — he arrived as a child from the United Kingdom and when his visa expired, he continued to live in the United States. After being detained for nine days, 21 was released from ICE detention in February. After being released, 21 wasn’t allowed to work for eight months because he didn’t have a work visa. He finally secured one this past month — seemingly allowing him to work in the United States. Except, according to TMZ, ICE is still interfering with the rapper’s ability to make money.
21 Savage reportedly will not be allowed to travel internationally to tour while he is awaiting his immigration hearing about his expired visa and residency in the United States. But those proceedings have no immediate court date. 21 Savage was detained in Atlanta, and that is where his case will be heard. Atlanta’s immigration courts have a reputation for being some of the toughest in the country, according to a report from the Atlanta Courier-Journal. Not only that, but Atlanta courts have an extensive backlog of cases – some people will have to wait until as long as 2022 to find out whether or not they will be allowed to remain in the United States.
“It felt impossible,” 21 told the New York Times about trying to get the right immigration papers in order to reside in the country legally. “It got to the point where I just learned to live without it.”
21 Savage hasn’t been shy about speaking about his immigration experiences, and he also didn’t hesitate to connect his case to the larger immigration issues in the United States.
“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.”
At the time of 21’s detention, he was slated to perform at the Grammys — an opportunity he missed because he was locked up in an ICE facility in Georgia. But not getting to perform didn’t matter to him nearly as much figuring out a path to stay in the United States, which he considers home. Since his release, 21 has advocated for immigrant rights, including advocating for automatic citizenship for immigrant children born in the United States.
“My situation is important ’cause I represent poor black Americans and I represent poor immigrant Americans,” 21 Savage said. “You gotta think about all the millions of people that ain’t 21 Savage that’s in 21 Savage shoes.”