21 Savage’s career continues to be held back by his immigration status. Back in February, the I Am > I Was rapper was placed under arrest by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Although he moved from the U.K. to the U.S. legally in 2005, he overstayed his visa, which expired in 2006.
TMZ now reports that 21 is currently blocked from leaving the country and he’s also actively awaiting immigration court in Atlanta, which could take years. According the outlet, Atlanta immigration courts are backed up with cases, with people ahead of 21 getting court dates in 2022. Therefore, it could take a while before the Atlanta-based rapper is able to clear up his immigration status.
In the meantime, ICE restrictions have put limitations on his rapping career. 21 wasn't able to work domestically for eight months, however he finally obtained a work permit in October. As for traveling, 21 wrapped up his I Am > I Was U.S. Tour this summer, but he won’t be able to perform any shows outside of the country until his immigration status is resolved.
Since his arrest, 21 has spoken publicly about his ICE detention and citizenship challenges, in the hopes of becoming a voice for other immigrants currently facing the same troubles.
Speaking with The New York Times following his arrest, 21 said that after his visa expired, becoming a U.S. citizen “felt impossible.”
“It got to the point where I just learned to live without it,” he said. “We struggled but we couldn’t get food stamps, we couldn’t get government assistance. I learned how to live without.”
“It’s like my worst nightmare,” the rapper said of deportation. “That’s why it’s always been trying to get corrected. 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.
Last month, 21 accepted an award during the National Immigration Law Center ceremony held in Los Angeles. The “A Lot” rapper had previously donated $25,000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that helped him through his arrest.
“It really wasn’t jail, it was the possibility of me not being able to live in this country no more that I’ve been living in my whole life,” 21 explained to NYT about the scariest part of his arrest. “All that just going through your head, like, ‘Damn, I love my house, I ain’t gonna be able to go in my house no more? I ain’t gonna be able to go to my favorite restaurant that I been going to for 20 years straight?’ That’s the most important thing. 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.