21 Savage grew up hard on the streets, became a well-known hip hop artist, has given back to the community. ICE detained him yesterday saying he is actually a Brit and wants to deport him. Bizarrely, this happened right after he performed his new anti-ICE song on the Tonight Show. Huh. Imagine that.
ICE, in a belligerent, deliberately accusatory, and purposefully deceptive statement, said “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa.” This deliberately nasty statement is designed to prejudice people against 21 Savage.
Here’s what actually happened. 21 Savage came to Atlanta when he was thirteen. He obviously would have had no say in or even knowledge of his visa expiring when he was fourteen. Further, his lawyer says in the official statement that 21 Savage has “never hid his immigration status from the US government.” So, in no way is his public persona false. Yet he’s being held without bail. Which is also clearly a violation of the law.
With his Leading by Example foundation and in partnership with the local nonprofit Get Schooled, 21 Savage has spent years working to promote literacy, and to help underprivileged schoolchildren and their families. It’s also where he was arrested (for a felony that was expunged from his record in September 2018), survived a brutal shooting, started a family, and saw his best friend die. If that doesn’t give him the right to call Atlanta home, what does?
A few days prior to the arrest, 21 Savage released a music video for his new song with J. Cole, ‘A Lot’, that directly called out ICE’s inhuman border policies, and then performed the track on the Tonight Show. Did the authorities truly believe that this man was a threat to the security of this country? Or did they see a rich, famous, successful black man calling their bluff on a national stage, and decide to take him down a peg?
It shouldn’t matter either way, because there is no logical reason for 21 Savage—or anyone—to be deported.