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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

21 Savage, the latest victim of ICE


Rapper’s public criticism of ICE leads to detainment

Instead of watching Super Bowl LII like many others, I was on Twitter trying to make sense of the news that Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, better known as 21 Savage, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), probably because of his outspoken behavior against the agency.   

On Feb. 3, 21 Savage was detained by ICE. The age at which 21 Savage originally entered the U.S. is murky and varies depending on which news source you read.

However, two consistent pieces of information can be determined: 21 Savage was legally in the United States during 2005 and his visa he was here on expired in 2006.

Apparently they couldn’t find him since then, which doesn’t make much sense because he is one of the most sought after rappers of our generation.

The fact that Abraham-Joseph wasn’t on ICE’s radar aside, the rapper has been very outspoken about his dislike for ICE and the controversies that come with U.S. immigration.


On Jan. 28, Abraham-Joseph was a guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and performed his song “A Lot,” where he changed his lyrics to “I cant imagine my kids stuck at the border / Flint still need water / People was innocent, couldnt get lawyers.”

I believe that because Abraham-Joseph has been so vocal about his dislike for ICE and the way in which the U.S. handles immigration, ICE decided to look into him. And when they found out he was living here illegally, they decided to detain him.

I know that sounds like a long shot, but in 2014, Abraham-Joseph was arrested for felony drug charges and wasn’t looked into by ICE at that time.

ICE argues that Abraham-Joseph was convicted, but the rapper’s lawyers in turn said that he was arrested but not convicted. If he was arrested and convicted as ICE believes, wouldn’t they have found out that the rapper wasn’t here legally?

Or does ICE only pay attention to legal status when a prominent celebrity like 21 Savage speaks out against them?

It’s also too convenient that when Abraham-Joseph has been outwardly critical of ICE, all of a sudden the agency realizes that he is not of legal status.

ICE is using the excuse that Abraham-Joseph is a “convicted felon” to justify detaining him because the agency knows that even though he is currently here illegally, he is not dangerous. And according to Abraham-Joseph’s lawyers, the U.S. government has been aware of the rapper’s legal status since 2017 when he applied for a U.S. visa. So why didn’t they detain him then?

I know that 21 Savage is technically here illegally, but I feel as though people are overlooking all the good that he has done while lving in the States. When people hear his music and see his tattoos and mugshot from 2014, they automatically assume that he’s a dangerous threat and needs to go back to Britain.

On the contrary, the rapper has done a lot for his community in Atlanta such as create numerous charitable campaigns for the children who reside in the city.

For example, he announced on “The Ellen Show” in early 2018 that he was starting a financial literacy program for children.

Isn’t that the “type of immigrant” the current administration is looking for? Or does his single mugshot outshine that?

Abraham-Joseph’s situation is similar to many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. He came here when he was 13 years old and his parents overstayed their work visas. Because they stayed, he had to stay as well.

In the end, Abraham-Joseph should be released by ICE because it seems that ICE only detained the rapper in light of of his outspoken criticism.

If anything, when the rapper is released, he will probably advocate even more for the many people who are being mistreated by ICE and the U.S. immigration system.

In the long run, will ICEs deliberate detainment of Abraham-Joseph really  accomplish anything?

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