In early February, 26-year-old rapper 21 Savage was arrested and detained in Atlanta by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The agency claimed Savage was living in the U.S. with an expired temporary Visa from the U.K. and was part of a sting operation they were running.
After his arrest, Savage’s attorney, Charles H. Kluc, released a statement which said the arrest was “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges and [ICE is] now refusing to release him on bond of any amount, despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application (as the victim of crime) with USCIS, and that he has relief from removal available to him.”
Many of the rapper’s supporters called foul on the arrest, and the #Free21Savage campaign reached full momentum when Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors launched an online petition to stop Savage’s deportation. Since the launch of the petition, Savage has been released from custody, but what remains is the fact that immigration reform is a much-needed conversation in the Black community.
There’s a ringing sentiment among a lot of Black people that immigration isn’t an issue they should concern themselves with and many even have sided with Trump and his building of the wall. But what many Black people fail to realize is that immigration affects Black people, just as much as it affects Latinos.
Cullors spoke about the recent issue with ICE targeting 21 Savage and Black immigrants during an appearance at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
“Black people around the globe are being impacted by racism. So I think it should be a solidarity issue for us. But I think the other reason is, we know that immigration is not just a Latino issue. In fact, Black immigrants are more likely to be criminalized and deported because of the racial injustice issues, as well as immigration issues,” Cullors told ESSENCE.
“I think that as Black Americans, we should be the first ones to be standing up for other people’s rights in this country. I think a lot of what happens is that we feel like not enough people stand up for us, so why should we stand up for them?” Cullors continued.
But the truth of the matter is, these sentiments are also being spread by the president, and are used to pit Black people against Latino immigrants. Cullors thinks that now is the time where marginalized communities need to come together to challenge this rhetoric.
“Honestly with this current government. We need to come together, if for anything, to make sure that Trump is not in office in 2020,” Cullors said. And for 2020, Cullors definitely has her eyes on someone in particular, and it’s Stacey Abrams.
“She hasn’t announced, but trust and believe when she does, I will root for everything and fight for her to become our next president. I’m looking for a candidate that will able to speak to Black agenda, that will be honest about the history of this country, to be willing to come forward and set a new agenda, a progressive, radical agenda for this country,” she said.