She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, better known as the rapper 21 Savage, compared his immigration situation to that of "Dreamers," those brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in an interview on Good Morning America.
Abraham-Joseph was arrested by ICE on Feb. 3 and detained for nine days before being released on bond pending a hearing. His visa expired in 2006, and he could be deported. He was born in England and brought to the U.S. His parents overstayed their work visas.
"I didn't know what a visa was," Abraham-Joseph said. "I was 7 when I first came here. I knew I wasn't born here, but I didn't know what that meant as far as when I transitioned into an adult, how that was going to affect my life. I wasn't hiding it, but it's like, I didn't want to be deported, so I wasn't going to come out and be like, 'By the way I wasn't born here,' to the world."
Abraham-Joseph is a Grammy-nominated artist, and his legal team believes he has been targeted because of a lyric that appeared to be critical of immigration policies.
"Went through some things, but I couldn't imagine my kids stuck at the border," he raps in the song "A Lot."
Abraham-Joseph applied for a visa in 2017, which means the Department of Homeland Security had all his information, including the fact that his previous visa had expired. His lawyers claim he was targeted because he premiered the aforementioned immigration lyric during a performance on the "Tonight Show" a week before his arrest.
He applied for a U-visa on the grounds of having been the victim of a crime when he was shot in 2013 during an incident in which a friend was murdered.
"When She'yaa came to this country he was 7 years old and entering the 1st grade," said Alex Spiro, the lawyer hired by rapper Jay-Z on behalf of Abraham Joseph. "He was one of many dreamers—of all walks of life and ethnicities—that came to this country to seek a better life and contribute meaningfully to his community."