Rapper 21 Savage remained steadfast about his intention to fight deportation threats in an interview with The New York Times published on Sunday.
The 26-year-old artist was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials earlier this month. He was held in ICE custody for 10 days before being released on a $100,000 bond. ICE officials said he was a British national who entered the U.S. legally in 2005 as a minor, but overstayed his visa, which expired a year later. ICE said he was arrested as part of a “targeted operation.”
In an interview with the Times, the Atlanta-based rapper, legally named Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, said he was not going to leave his home of more than a decade, declaring he’d rather go to jail instead of returning to the United Kingdom.
“I’m not leaving Atlanta without a fight. We gon’ fight all the way till the last day even if that mean I sit in jail for 10 years,” the rapper said.
Lawyers for 21 Savage have maintained that he never hid his immigration status from the U.S. government and that he was left without legal status in this country at no fault of his own. If he is deported, he could be banned from entering the United States for 10 years.
“My situation is important ’cause I represent poor black Americans and I represent poor immigrant Americans. You gotta think about all the millions of people that ain’t 21 Savage that’s in 21 Savage shoes,” he said.
The rapper was nominated for two Grammy Awards this year, but did not attend the ceremony because he was in custody. He was slated to perform with rapper Post Malone. The pair were nominated for Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance for their hit single “Rockstar.”
Some artists addressed 21 Savage’s situation on the Grammys red carpet, and Post Malone wore a shirt with “21 Savage” emblazoned on the front during the performance. But the awards show largely ignored the artist’s detainment, a conclusion 21 Savage seemed to dispute.
“I was on their mind in some type of way,” he told the Times. “That’s all that mattered.”