By Nicholas Schwartz, Freshman Health Sciences major
The music industry is no stranger to drama. Just the thought brings memories of the many exchanges between Kanye West and Taylor Swift and drama like Ariana Grande versus the Grammy’s. Yet, none in the media today have caused quite the stir that 21 Savage has made in his encounter with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
For those of you who have not been following, in short, the Atlanta-based rapper Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, also known as “21 Savage,” has been detained by ICE. The authorities claim he overstayed a visa he and his family were given in Atlanta in his early years.
After further investigation, it was found that 21 Savage was actually born in the United Kingdom and came here under his parent’s work visa as a minor. ICE claims that he has not renewed this visa and, thus, is in the country illegally.
The rapper’s legal team has come out to say that 21 Savage was never trying to avoid authorities and that the authorities knew of his immigration status. He is currently in holding awaiting possible removal proceedings, which he may or may not have to go through. He has applied for, and has pending, a U-Visa which is meant for those who are victims of a crime while on US soil.
Having this pending visa could allow him freedom from deportation and time to finish his visa.
There is a lot of speculation as to what prompted this arrest. ICE reports that a criminal record is what has him susceptible to deportation. Abraham-Joseph’s lawyers responded saying that the charge they are referring to, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, was expunged, and the charges dropped.
The difficulty that comes with this is that people have reason to suspect this as a direct attack on 21 Savage.
In one of his latest songs, “A Lot,” he made a comment criticizing ICE and their treatment of children at the border: “Started from the bottom straight from the gutter, so I had to go a lil’ harder/The lights was off, the gas was off, so we had to boil up the water/Been through some things so I can’t imagine my kids stuck at the border/Flint still need water/People was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.”
Many people consider ICE’s arrest of 21 Savage to be a response to this song. As for me, I see this as just that. The attack on 21 Savage was unprecedented. ICE, and in turn the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), had known about Abraham-Joseph’s status for some time.
Not only this, but once his parents left, he was lumped into the now famous category of “Dreamers.” Someone who has contributed to their community and has tried everything in their power to go about citizenship the right way, has no need to be held by the DHS.
21 Savage has done so much for the East Atlanta community, as well as across the nation with his outreach and his music. Not only this, but he has more than just a career in the U.S. He has built a life, filled with family and friends. I, for one, have faith in our justice system and hope that these facts are brought into consideration when it comes time for his hearing.
I, as well as many others, hope that Abraham-Joseph, as well as his family can put this behind them and continue with normal life soon.