21 Savage has said that undocumented immigrants who lived in America as children should automatically become U.S. citizens.
The rapper, who was held in immigration detention earlier this year, spoke after he was handed an award from the National Immigration Law Center.
“When you’re a child, you don’t know what’s going on,” he told AP.
“Now, you grow up and got to figure it out. Can’t get a job. Can’t get a license. I’m one of the lucky ones who became successful. It’s a lot of people who can’t.”
The US star, real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was born in Britain but moved to the U.S. when he was 7. His lawyers have said that the 26-year-old wasn’t at fault when his visa expired in 2006.
“When you ain’t got no choice, you should be exempt,” 21 Savage said.
“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.”
Immigration officials became aware of the rapper’s status in 2017 when he applied for a new visa, but only chose to arrest him at the beginning of 2019. His immigration case still remains pending as he awaits a new hearing.
Describing his own experiences, he said that the visa application process was at risk of discouraging other immigrants from seeking permanent settled status.
“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.”