21 Savage just received an award presented to him by the National Immigration Law Center Thursday night. The rapper before the honoring the award said that automatic citizenship should be given to undocumented children in other to help those who are not as fortunate as he was during his ICE case.
“When you ain’t got no choice, you should be exempt,” 21 told the Associated Press. “It’s not like I was 30, woke up, and moved over here. I’ve been here since I was like 7 or 8, probably younger than that. I didn’t know anything about visas and all that. I just knew we were moving to a new place . . . I feel like we should be exempt. I feel like we should automatically become citizens.”
“Now, you grow up and got to figure it out . . . They just lose hope,” he said. “I feel like kids who were brought here at young ages, they should automatically be like ‘Yeah, you good to stay here, work and go to college.'”
He spent 10 days in a detention center in south Georgia before being released. The Atlanta-based rapper, whose given name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is a British citizen who moved to the U.S. when he was 7. His visa expired in 2006, but his lawyers had said that wasn’t his fault.
His immigration case is still open, pending a hearing before a new judge, the rapper also said that the process of applying for a visa discourages a lot of other immigrants who don’t have documents because it “hangs over your head forever.”
“They just lose hope,” he said. “I feel like kids who were brought here at young ages, they should automatically be like ‘Yeah, you good to stay here, work and go to college.’ It should be nipped in the bud before it gets to a point before you come of age.” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors applauded 21 Savage for becoming an advocate for social justice and also shedding light on immigrant issues for black people.
“Up until the moment when he was arrested, there wasn’t a nationally or public conversation about black immigrants,” said Cullors, who introduced 21 Savage and handed him the Courageous Luminaries award. Her activist organization led a coalition to facilitate his release from ICE custody.
“The conversation primarily revolved around Latin immigrants,” she continued. “His detention really pushed a national conversation and it made us talk about what’s happening with black people who are undocumented. All the black people in America aren’t just citizens.”