Since the founding of the United States, immigration has been a huge issue. The nation was founded by immigrants but soon turned against them, passing laws preventing new people from joining the country and creating intense stigmas surrounding certain groups of people. While this started with Southern Europeans and Asians, the main groups targeted by these stigmas now are Central and South Americans. In recent years, the anti-immigrant rhetoric has increased and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has turned into a brutal police force that separates families at the border and lets children die on its watch.
People have been publicly fighting ICE’s policies recently, criticizing the organization and rallying behind the cry of “Abolish ICE.”
Somebody who recently came out against the agency was Atlanta rapper 21 Savage, first in a live show, then in a music video. 21 Savage added a verse to his hit song “a lot,” in which he said that he “went through some things / but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.” Two days later he was taken into custody by ICE for illegally staying in the US.
When 21 Savage, whose real name is Sheyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested by ICE, they made a statement stating that “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the US from the UK as a teen and overstayed his visa.” Soon after, Abraham-Joseph’s legal team clarified that he came to the country with his family when he was seven, and besides a brief visit to the United Kingdom (UK) at age 12, has been in the country since.
While 21 Savage was released from custody on February 13, he still may face deportation in spite of everything he has done for the US. While he used to deal drugs, he eventually cleaned up his act, started a family, and now donates to charities and makes positive contributions in his community. He’s been applying for a visa since 2017. All of these factors on top of his influence as a rapper should guarantee he would be safe from ICE, but the organization has become a lot more bold in recent years. Many people, including the rapper himself, believe they took him in to make a statement.
It’s honestly worrying that ICE has enough power to make a statement like this. In the past, people who have made positive influences on the country and demonstrated reason to stay in the country were often given visas to stay. Now 21 Savage faces deportation despite these factors.
While Abraham-Joseph’s case is already worrying, it also paints a larger picture about the dire state of immigration services in the US. If a millionaire with American-born children faces deportation, then what hope is there for the common people fleeing violence in their countries. These people desperately need help, but instead they are denied entry into the country and when they immigrate illegally are separated from their children. Kids are being put in cages and left to never see the families again. They don’t have the same kind of privilege or support as a celebrity like 21 Savage, and instead they are stuck in custody for months.
This is extremely horrifying on its own, but when compared to Abraham-Joseph’s case, it becomes worse. Instead of using its resources to helping immigrants at the border, ICE is creating a scandal using a well renowned rapper. They’re going against the prior requirements of visas to show that nobody should speak up against them. It’s important to pay attention to these situations. If ICE can continue to abuse its power, there will be more cases like that of 21 Savage, and even more like those all across the border.