ICE’s arrest of rapper 21 Savage highlights flaws within immigration enforcement

Rapper 21 Savage was detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sunday Feb. 3. This detention is futile and reflects broader problems with immigration policies. 

The rapper’s management team put out a statement shortly after news of his detainment broke. “21 Savage, born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is from the United Kingdom … he lost his legal immigration status in 2006, when he was barely a teenager,” the statement said, according to NPR.

At no point in time did Abraham-Joseph attempt to hide his immigration status from authorities. He applied for a visa in 2017, but law enforcement waited to move in until this past weekend, according to NPR. 

In addition, the Atlanta-based rapper has no criminal charges that could prevent his release while his visa is processed. Nevertheless, ICE has refused to release Abraham-Joseph, possibly as an attempt to make an example out of him.

Abraham-Joseph changed the lyrics in one of his songs when performing on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Jan. 28 to criticize the government’s handling of the Flint water crisis, which his lawyers insinuate may have attracted ICE’s anger, according to NPR. 

Abraham-Joseph’s situation is unique in that he has a social platform to speak out. But many others targeted by ICE offer the same story without the power to act on their injustice. Countless immigrants have been cruelly victimized by ICE’s policies over the past decade. 

ICE certainly deserves society’s criticism when it needlessly arrests a celebrity like 21 Savage, but people should also recognize the  ways the system mistreats immigrants who lack a platform. This unique situation will hopefully bring large-scale reform t U.S. policy on immigration as a whole.