There was only one story that could have compared to the buzz surrounding the Super Bowl last Sunday. That was the news that rapper 21 Savage was arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Atlanta. This came as a surprise to fans, who had previously thought that the rapper was an Atlanta native. ICE allegedly detained the rapper on the basis that he had come to the U.S. as a child and overstayed his visa. 21 Savage is, apparently, from the U.K.

When 21 Savage first broke into the mainstream hip-hop scene in 2015 he was acknowledged by critics as a revolutionary artist for his time. At the time, the relatively unknown rapper quickly fought his way to chart-topping positions and accolades. His latest album, I Am > I Was was released in 2018. The rapper has seen collaborations with artists like Post Malone, Drake, and Metro Boomin’ among others.

Background

21 Savage was born in England as She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph in 1992 and moved to the United States with his family when he was just 7. Apart from a month spent outside of the U.S. in 2005 before re-entering the country on an H4 visa in 2006, the rapper is as American as you can get. However, when his H4 visa expired in the same year, he was left without legal status and no way to change it.

The rapper was arrested and detained on Sunday following a traffic incident wherein Savage was driving a car that had been pulled over for reckless driving. When police arrested the rapper they found a fully loaded glock in the car. A later report from TMZ corrects that neither the car nor the gun belonged to the rapper. The website claims that the connection between Savage’s arrest and the involvement of ICE officials are unknown.

In the wake of his detainment and the news that the rapper is, in fact, a British National, Jay-Z has hired legal counsel to assist him. Jay-Z has hired attorney Alex Sprio to assist with the case. “In addition to being a successful recording artist, Savage deserves to be reunited with his children immediately,” said Jay-Z on the matter. 21 Savage had previously filed for a U-visa but it’s been pending for years. As of now, he has no legal status as a citizen of the U.S.

Unclear Future

It’s unclear how this case will unfold for 21 Savage, who remains in ICE custody in Georgia. The unfortunate fact is that although Savage is not a U.S. citizen, he’s lived here for most of his life. Cases such as these are all too common today, where immigration has become more of a sick political bargaining device than a human rights issue.

#Free21Savage has been trending on social media sites like Twitter off and on in the wake of his arrest, which took place just before the Super Bowl on Sunday in Georgia.