Transcript for Rapper 21 Savage fears deportation after ICE arrest
Now to our ABC news exclusive. Rapper 21 savage speaking out for the first time since his release about I.C.E. He was born in England and arrested for overstaying his Visa held for nine days forcing him to miss his performance at the grammys. He sat down with ABC's linsey Davis here with this exclusive interview. Good morning. Reporter: Good morning. Yes, he was born in England but 21 savage says he is from Atlanta. He says it's where he grew up starting in first grade. From the moment he was first detained his legal team says there's been a lot of misinformation and less than 24 hours after being released from an I.C.E. Detention center 21 savage sat down with us to set the record straight. A rising star in the music industry, 21 savage is considered Atlanta rap royalty known for chart topping hits like "Rock star" which features his distinct voice. ??? Living like a rock star ??? Reporter: A song he was supposed to perfo at the grammys where he was nominated. 21 savage should be here tonight. Reporter: Instead of gracing the stage at the premiere event in music, he was being held in an immigration detention center in south Georgia, many fans were stunned to learn the rapper was born in Britain but lived in Atlanta. Immigration authorities say he overstayed his Visa which expired 13 years ago. I don't think the policy is broken. I feel like the way that they enforce the policy is broken. Reporter: While he was detained an outpouring of support from some of the biggest names in the music industry. Share your support. Reporter: A petition with nearly half a million names to keep him in the U.S. Permanently. Jay-Z providing a powerhouse legal team to get him out of 9 detention center and keep him in the country. Walk us through February 3rd, a few hours before the super bowl is about to take place here in Atlanta and you get pulled over. What happened? I don't even know. I was just driving and I seen guns and blue lights and I was in the back of a car and I was gone. Reporter: They tell you you're under arrest. No, they didn't say nothing. They said we got They said we got savage. Yeah. Sounds like this was potentially something they set out to do, this would have been targeted and not just a random traffic stop. It was definitely targeted. Reporter: The 26-year-old whose real name is shayaa bin abraham-joseph says he came to the U.S. With his mom and brothers when he was 7 years old. At a certain point, 2006 your Visa expired. I didn't know what a Visa was. Like we was -- I was 7 when I first came here. I knew I wasn't born here but I didn't know like what that meant as far as when I transitioned into an adult how it was going to affect my life. I wasn't hiding it but I didn't want to get deported so I wouldn't say I wasn't born here. Reporter: His arrest came just days after the rapper released his music video "A lot." You have a line where you said went through some things but couldn't imagine my kid stuck at the border. Do you feel you were targeted for that? Basically being critical of the immigration system. My lawyers think that. What do you think? I don't really know. I can't really say. I think people would think that but I can't say. Reporter: The department of homeland security has been aware he's been living here on an expired Visa for some time. Back in 2017 he applied to become a lawful permanent resident. I've been here 20 years, 19 years. My whole -- this is all I know, you know WHA I'm saying. I don't feel like you should be arrested and put a place where a murderer would be just being in the country for too long. Tell us what the detention center was like. I was like in one room all day. By yourself. Yeah. Do you have that concern now that you might be kicked out? Yeah, but I feel like I've been through so much in my life like I've learned to embrace the times when I'm down because they always build me up. We are in the middle of securing his immigration status to where he is a citizen, but it's very, very complicated and there is a lot of steps we have to go through. Reporter: His three children too young to understand the complexities behind why daddy was gone for nine days. Who the best daddy in the world? You. Reporter: What was that moment like yesterday when you got to hug them and see them? They started jumping me. Reporter: On Wednesday, 21 savage was released on $100,000 bond. There are a lot of people who don't get a bond who are left back in the detention center. What's your message to them. I feel your pain and I'm going to do everything in my power to try and bring awareness to your pain. I.C.E. Confirms 21 savage was indeed apprehended during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners. He says his number one priority right now is becoming a U.S. Citizen, George. Okay, thanks. We're joined by one of the members of the legal team brought in by Jay-Z. Alex Spiro. Thank you for joining us. So I.C.E. Concedes he was targeted. Was he targeted because of his music. Yes, and we believe honestly that he was targeted, of course, like they said and part of the reason we think is because he's both a celebrity and they can use this as a way to send a message and also perhaps because of his music. Is this the case that they would normally bring someone who has been here 19, 20 years? We don't believe so. There are a lot of things about the case that are curious and troubling. He is someone who comes here as a young man, one of the dreamers as they're called and comes over here and has a singular offense for marijuana when he is a college age person. That's vacated, sealed. There is no issue. He is getting a Visa. He is operating in good faith. He is performing and giving back to his community, he is a son, he is a father yet they take this unusual step to arrest him the week before the grammys and got give him bond and find it curious and troubling. The big question what's next? Is he actually vulnerable to depore trace. He is certainly vulnerable but we're confident and his fans should be confident that he'll be able to remain here and hoping that will give some hope to everybody else that fights these issues. That's what I want to get to. He says he wants to send a broad hermesage to educate everyone what's going on. What is the message? I think the message is we can't forget about the people that don't have the resource, that don't have the fame to fight for their freedom in the criminal and immigration systems. There's people totally forgotten that exist in these centers and people like Jay-Z and he stepped in for meek mill and now I'm hoping people like 21 savage will bring light to these issues and bring light to those forgotten. Thanks. Coming up, the man who
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