Where were you before?: The latest immigration casualty muddies an already dirty deportation debate

The American rapper 21 Savage turned out to be not so American when reports came out that he is now currently being held by I.C.E. for overstaying his visa. The internet gave condolences and turned to outrage towards the immigration group for taking a beloved rapper and separating him from his children. Though, where was this outrage when thousands of immigrants were being held in detention centers with poor conditions, split up from their own families, and taken away from a place some have always thought of home?

For years immigrants, especially Hispanics, have been a target of I.C.E. with few advocates fighting to help them out of their situations. President Trump has continuously targeted Hispanics and has made it a point to degrade, detain, and deport us with no remorse whatsoever. People are so used to hearing about deportations that by now no one really talks about it unless something traumatic happens, yet as soon as news of the rapper broke out, an overwhelming amount of outrage sparked anger towards the deportation agency.

Multiple celebrities came to the defense of the rapper, whose official name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, claiming their anger and frustration towards the situation. For example, rapper Cardi B tweeted for his release and even had an online argument with conservative Tomi Lahren who joked about the rappers arrest. Multiple other artists went on to tweet “free 21” in effort to get the message across.

With these celebrities coming to Savage’s defense, it’s safe to say that the same amount of support is not reciprocated when it come to the regular undocumented citizens currently facing the same problems.

Like most current immigrants, 21 Savage came to the U.S. at a very young age and later, according to an NPR Music article published February 5, 2019, lost his legal status in 2005 due to his family overstaying their work visas in search for better opportunities.

His situation is the same thing that is happening to thousands of people, yet now this is the only case that matters at the moment. Current DACA recipients experiencing the same fear and uncertainty of their fate since, like Savage, came to the country at a very young age brought by their parents searching for something more.

Part of the anger surrounding the artist’s arrest is his three young children — two sons and a daughter — and having them grow up without a father in their lives. This is obviously devastating and horrible, but it’s a common occurrence that is happening to undocumented citizens awaiting deportation. Around 2,342 children were separated from their families at the border between May 5th and June 9th of 2018. That’s 2,206 parents separated from their kids and left without knowing sometimes where they end up.

To what extent do you support the deportation policies that allow

undocumented citizens to be deported or detained at the border?


In my family, one of my cousins was unfortunate enough to be faced with this same fate. He was recently detained by I.C.E. officials and is currently facing the probability to be deported, leaving his three young children behind. All three of his kids rely on him to bring food to the table, get them to school, basically sustain a suitable life, but with the current situation at hand, everyday life has become a struggle for them.

As new rules are being enforced, the amount of families being affected is increasing. At the start of the zero tolerance rule proposed by Trump administration, an average of 65 children were separated from their families a day. In the rapper’s situation his kids would at least still be left with their mothers, but the same can’t be said for a lot of children at the border considering both of their parents are most likely getting deported leaving them alone and scared of what’s to come.

Savage was detained on February 3rd, 2019, and was recently released on bond on February 13th. For most undocumented citizens, being released from I.C.E. agents is not something that happens, but since the rapper has the resources and platform, the advantage he has is visible. In a recent interview with news source New York Times, Savage stated that his family could not get any government help growing up due to their statuses and how hard life was being undocumented, even being able to get a job was a struggle in his early teenage years; along with this, he expressed how being deported was his worst nightmare, considering he has his kids and mother here in the States.  

The same cousin who is awaiting his court date with I.C.E. officials has been having a difficult time finding a way to support his children who are now away from their father. Currently two of the three kids are staying with a close relative while the third is with her mother. This is affecting his children’s education with his oldest son focusing more on his issue going on at home, resulting in him neglecting his studies and acting out at school. My cousin, unknowing of his fate, affect his whole family unit with hopes that everything will go back to normal and their dad won’t be taken away from the place they’ve all called home.

At the end of the 2018 fiscal year, the number of immigrants arrested and deported by I.C.E. was around 256,085 and more than half of these people were Mexican. This number is steadily increasing due to the current policies and cruel enforcement given by President Trump.

The way the current political climate is moving, many people with current pending legal statuses seems to be at the hand of the President who is not so fond of the immigrants who helped build this country. We shouldn’t just now care about I.C.E. because a famous rapper is being targeted, we should be caring all the time considering these problems are continuously happening. If people want to speak out for a change in the way immigrants are being treated, it should be to help everyone not just a single person.

Jocelyn Pinedo is a columnist for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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