After being released on bond earlier this week following nine days in ICE detention facing potential deportation, 21 Savage has given his first interview about what exactly happened. Appearing on Good Morning America Friday, the rapper says he believes his arrest was premeditated due to ICE being misinformed about his immigration status. Savage was born in Britain and came to the U.S. when he was 7, but overstayed his visa as a minor, applying for a new one in 2017; however, ICE arrested him on the day of the Super Bowl in Atlanta, where he has lived for most of his life, believing he’d come to the U.S. much later than the actual timeline and that a prior felony conviction (which has since been expunged from his record) was grounds for deportation. “It was definitely targeted. There was helicopters,” Savage recalls, adding that he was never told that he was under arrest. “No. They didn’t say nothing. They just said, ‘We got Savage.’” His lawyers believe his celebrity and a recent lyric critical of border patrol were also factors in his arrest.
Savage says he was aware that he was born in Britain, but “didn’t know what a visa was” at the time that it expired in 2006 or how it might affect his adult life, so he kept his past under wraps as his fame rose to avoid any trouble. “I wasn’t hiding it, but I didn’t wanna get deported,” he says. “So I’m not finna come out and be like, ‘Hey, by the way, I wasn’t born here, world.’” Savage returned to Britain briefly in 2005 because his uncle died and believes that is where ICE got his story confused, thinking that was his first time entering the country. He says he doesn’t remember much of his life in Britain and considers himself an American. “I’ve been here 20 years. I’m from Atlanta, in my eyes. This is all I know,” he says. “I don’t believe you should be arrested and put in where a murderer would be just for being in the country for too long.” As he awaits further information about his chance of being deported, ICE told ABC that it doesn’t have any updates about Savage’s case.