Tristan Johnson, Archivist
With constant televised attention and social media outbursts, the country is torn on how to feel about the potential deportation of esteemed rapper 21 Savage. Many people believe that it is an unjust and targeted attempt to quiet an outspoken voice, while others believe that him going back to the United Kingdom should have happened sooner.
On Feb. 3, every major media outlet was reporting that 21 Savage, otherwise known as Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, had been detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for living in the U.S. illegally. In January, 21 Savage’s latest album “I am > I Was” hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. He is also known for working with other artists, such as Post Malone, Cardi B and Drake.
Looking past all of his success, many people believe his troublesome situation began in 2014, when 21 Savage faced 12 months of probation after a Fulton County drug incident. The jail records for Fulton County display that 21 Savage’s birthplace was in Atlanta, Georgia.
21 Savage spent much of his early life growing up in Atlanta, therefore there were no concerns that arose from this recorded statement. ICE agents, on the other hand, claim that the rapper was from the U.K. and had overstayed his visa to the United States.
ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox issued a public statement saying, “Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.” Cox also claims that the arrest was a targeted operation, and that deportation discussions will begin as soon as possible within the federal immigration court.
In various interviews with different media outlets, the rapper says that he was not hiding where he was born, however he chose to not discuss the situation for fear of being deported. He also applied for the U visa in 2017, with his status still pending. That being said, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is only allowed to issue 10,000 U visas every year and there is a long list of people requesting them that exceeds the amount allowed to be issued.
Charles H. Kuck, one of 21 Savage’s lawyers, released a statement claiming that “this is a civil law violation, and the continued detention of Mr. Abraham-Joseph serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States.” Kuck went on to further say that the Department of Homeland Security knew about the rapper’s location when he attempted to file for his U Visa in 2017, but they did not contact him.
There are thousands of more people going through the same situation that 21 Savage is going through. The only difference is that he has access to the best lawyers and has major media outlets by his side. There are many more stories of people that the general public never hear about; people being left to be victims of circumstances that they may not be able to control, in a political system that wants to see them fail.