21 Savage Describes Being On 23-Hour Lockdown In ICE Custody And Growing Up As An Immigrant
"I done overcame every obstacle that came my way," the "Padlock" rapper said. "Growing up, a n***a is in the hood and a n***a an immigrant."
October 03, 2020 at 8:04 pm
21 Savage spoke about his experience being arrested by ICE last year and being on a 23-hour lockdown while in custody in an interview on Wednesday.
During his interview on the Big Facts podcast, 21 Savage opened up to hosts Big Bank and DJ Scream about his immigration case and being detained by ICE.
The rapper, whose real name is Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, shared that his lawyers are still working on his case but that he had made peace with the idea that he may be deported to the United Kingdom where he was born.
21 Savage's mother brought him to the United States when he was seven and he told the podcast hosts that his family lived in fear because they were undocumented.
"I done overcame every obstacle that came my way. N****s don't really know how that sh*t be like. Growing up, a n***a is in the hood and a n***a an immigrant. So, no matter what, you can't go to college. You can't get no license, you can't get no job. My mom used to be paranoid driving," he said.
"My mama used to be scared to drive. Scared. But she had to drive. No license. My mama ain't never had a license until I was probably 24 or 25 when I got some money and got her sh*t straight. Our struggle was different. It wasn't no other option. I couldn't go get a job. I couldn't go to college. I couldn't get a license. I just got my license when I was like 25 or 26," he added.
His immigration case started when he was arrested in Atlanta along with another rapper named Young Nudy, according to Pitchfork.
ICE publicized his arrest and repeatedly released statements condemning him for claiming Atlanta as his hometown, telling Rolling Stone at one point that "his whole public persona is false."
The rapper's lawyers disputed this characterization, saying ICE was ignoring that he had repeatedly applied for a U-visa and had never made any attempt to hide that he was born in London.
"For the past 9 long days, we, on behalf of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, known to the world as 21 Savage, have been speaking with ICE to both clarify his actual legal standing, his eligibility for bond, and provide evidence of his extraordinary contributions to his community and society," his lawyers wrote in a statement, according to Blavity.
“I think this case is emblematic of a lot of cases where people are detained for not correct reasons, but they don’t always have resources to fight the system. This case is very emblematic of what happens in immigration court and detention,” his lawyer Charles Kuck added.
In the interview, he also discussed receiving help from Jay-Z. He said after being released from ICE custody, he went over to the rapper's house.
As Blavity reported last year, Jay-Z and Roc Nation jumped in and hired a lawyer for 21 Savage after he was arrested by ICE for living in the United States on an expired visa. He was reportedly on a 23-hour lockdown while in ICE custody and only allowed 10-minute calls with his lawyers.
"When I got out, I pulled up on Jay-Z at his house and sh*t. Him and Beyoncé was in there. And we was kicking it. He a regular n***a. I just was thanking him," the Atlanta-based rapper said.
"When I first got out I texted him like, I'ma pay you back. He was like, 'I don't want your money, pay me back by being great.' So I pulled up on him, chopped it up thanked him and sh*t, cause he ain't have to do that," he added.
Studies by multiple immigration organizations have shown that Black immigrants are punished harsher than others, detained and deported at higher rates than immigrants of other races.
Black immigrants are also more likely to be punished even when they were brought to the United States as small children, and considering many live in over-policed neighborhoods, these immigrants are more likely to be arrested on petty charges and deported. The trend now has a name— the prison-to-deportation pipeline.
In the last two weeks, two high-profile immigration cases have shown the cruelty of ICE when it comes to Black immigrants. Ousman Darboe spent three years in an ICE detention facility over a heavily disputed robbery charge before he was released this week, as Blavity previously reported.
In addition to Darboe, Pauline Binam spent years being detained by ICE and said doctors with the government removed one of her fallopian tubes against her will. Members of Congress had to step in and stop ICE from deporting her back to Cameroon when she began to speak out about what happened to her.
You can find additional information to help people in ICE custody or facing deportation here.
You can watch 21 Savage's full interview below: