21 Savage Calls for Automatic Citizenship for Immigrant Children

21 Savage — the rapper who endured his own immigration saga earlier this year — was honored Thursday by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), where he stated that children who live illegally in America should automatically become citizens.

“When you’re a child, you don’t know what’s going on,” 21 Savage told the Associated Press. “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 rapper born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph — who moved to America from the U.K. when he was seven years old — added of immigrant children living in America: “I feel like we should be exempt. I feel like we should automatically become citizens.”

21 Savage spent 10 days in an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center after he was arrested (and possibly “targeted“) as part of a sting operation in his now-native Atlanta; the rapper’s visa — unknown to him — expired in 2006.

“When you ain’t got no choice, you should be exempt,” 21 Savage told the AP. “It’s not like I was 30, woke up and moved over here. I’ve been here since I was like seven or eight, probably younger than that. I didn’t know anything about visas and all that. I just knew we were moving to a new place.”

With his immigration status still in flux, 21 Savage — who was honored by the NILC for advocating immigrant justice — also bemoaned the increasingly difficult process of obtaining a visa.

“They just lose hope,” the rapper said of immigrants. “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… We got a fight that we need to continue in this country. It ain’t over yet. “

By Daniel Kreps for ROLLING STONE
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