ICE Weaponizes Immigration Status Against Rapper

Maximilian Farley

I never thought I would be writing about rapper 21 Savage and immigration reform. For one thing, I was surprised to see that the rapper was not born in Atlanta, and judging from the memes and headlines, most people did not either. I think Dexerto.com’s article “21 Savage memes are going viral and it’s all because fans can’t believe he’s British” sums up the surprise pretty well.

A Tweet of a Statement from ICE Spokesman Discrediting 21 Savage’s Persona

Immigration and Customs Enforcement seems to be relying on this perceived deception to discredit the rapper, with Nick Valencia tweeting that a spokesman for the organization stated, “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa.”

21’s situation sheds light on some incredibly concerning revelations about immigrating to the country. You can go to usa.gov and attempt to figure out the process for yourself if you would like, but the website is horrendously set up. I had to click multiple times on links that claim to lead somewhere that just lead to another link that will supposedly lead me to the information I was looking for, just to find at the bottom of the website that “On September 24, 2017, the president signed a presidential proclamation that makes changes to the immigration policy,” and then point to two other websites that have more information.

First Page of the U-Visa Application

Immigration from some countries to the United States is also different depending on the country of the immigrant. Then of course, there is 21’s U-visa application. He applied for the visa in 2017, according to wtkr.com’s article, “21 Savage’s birth certificate says he was born in London borough”, which also stated he filed four years after he was shot six times and his friend was murdered. The U-visa allows for immigrants who have suffered from an eligible crime to stay in the United states in exchange for information on said crime, as well as having “an ongoing duty to cooperate with law enforcement and cannot unreasonably refuse to assist with the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.” The typical U-visa allows for up to 4 years in the country, and allows for the applicant to apply for permanent residency after 3 years, with no guarantee.

Other methods for immigrating to the country involve a lottery system, in which 50,000 applicants will be accepted, but no applicants are accepted from countries that have higher than a certain number of immigrants to the country, being sponsored by family who are permanent residents in the U.S., or being employed by a U.S. company that is willing to sponsor. The deadline for the 2020 lottery has already passed, but the new ineligible countries list has not been updated for the 2021 green card lottery.

All in all, I’ve simplified this process quite a bit more than the process really is. Research leads to a lot of sketchy-looking websites and almost all of them are very poorly designed, with links that supposedly lead to information just leading to more links claiming the same thing as the last one. The biggest issue I have is all of these bizarre categories. If you live in this country and pay taxes, why can you be classified as anything less than a citizen? The worst part about such a confusing system is that the status of a person can be used to keep him or her in check, as Newsone’s article “Twitter Questions The Timing Of 21 Savage’s Arrest By Immigration Authorities” suggests Twitter believes is being done to 21 Savage, as his arrest with highly publicized records comes five days after he criticized ICE on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, even though he applied for his U-visa 2 years ago and 21’s lawyer stated the rapper has been in the country illegally since 2006 “through no fault of his own”.

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