45 has declared a national emergency in order to unlock $8 Billion of funding for the Mexican/ United States border wall. The Department of Homeland Security’s explanation for the wall will help prevent illegal entry and drug smuggling. Although there have been several studies disproving border security to be a top concern of the public, the current president continues his attempts to pressure the country into believing the border wall project will enhance national security.
Underlying these politics is the deterministic spread of fear and hatred towards migrant peoples. There have been several administrative decisions regarding immigration that have impacted one of our countries most vulnerable populations, poor migrant children. In October 2017, the current administration made the decision to halt all DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) application processing, leaving around 690,000 recipients in limbo. While application processing has resumed, the new proposal for DACA, which includes changes in the cut off age (was 16 years old, new proposal states 18 years as the cut off), is yet to be written into law. In April 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that national security would be enforcing a zero tolerance policy, which prohibits even the attempt of illegal entry, a statute that conflicts with our refugee protocols from 1951 & 1967. These agreements state that anyone who declares that they are seeking asylum at the border can request an interview to confirm their credible fear claim and are placed in a holding area for their secondary interview. The zero-tolerance policy has sent thousands of children of all ages into tent cities across the nation, some even being released into the foster care system due to a heightened fear of imposter parents coming to claim children in order to gain access to the citizenship. Due to the lack of accountability on behalf of The Department of Justice and The Department of Health and Human Services to carefully manage tracking and documentation of the children and their families, they have been unable to locate the families of the children and have missed several deadlines to release them from their holding facilities. In addition, a caravan from Central America was tracked by the news media and reached the Mexican/ US border in November 2018 and have been dispersed throughout border towns as the shelters available are not prepared to hold thousands of occupants.Embed from Getty Images
In the midst of our country’s ongoing debates about immigration appears the story of 21 Savage, who was released Feb. 15 after a ten-day stay in 23-hour lockdown facility. Surprising to social media was the fact that 21 was from Great Britain when it had been presumed that the Atlanta based rapper was a native to the area. “I’ve been here 20 years, 19 years. This is all I know. I don’t think that you should be put in a place that murder is just for being in the country” was a statement he gave Robin Roberts on Good Morning America just days after his release. The rapper was in a vehicle with another local artist when they were pulled over by Atlanta PD who ran a background check and discovered his status. He shared that he has been in the country since he was 7 years old and was unaware of what he needed to do in order to secure his status as an adult until this incident. Living life in poverty, 21’s parents were unable to renew his visa.
Underlying these processes is the endless legacy of the haves and have nots in American society. Money, the great influencer, has enabled certain permissions for immigrants in this country. The rapper, who has had several convictions from 2014 expunged, left the lockdown facility by private jet and was immediately reunited with his mother and children. The outpour of support from celebrities, including Jay Z who posted bond set at $100,000 for 21 Savage, is a near impossibility for most of the people caught in the crosshairs of an intense battle for safety and opportunity. Alex Spiro, attorney for Jay Z, Bobby Shmurda, and many other notable celebrities along with Lisa LaPolt and 21 Savage’s attorney, Charles Kuck were able to secure an expedited hearing for the artist and are confident that 21 will receive citizenship status, despite the events of the past two weeks. Currently, 21 Savage has a pending U.S. Visa application (granted to victims of crimes who are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity), which was filed in 2017 as a result of being a victim of gun violence in 2013. While the hip hop community is celebrating his release and staying hopeful for his immigration case ahead, one must also be concerned for the status of the many people still in the balance and not able to pay their way out of their circumstance. They too, deserve a chance to enhance our country with their talents, be reunited with their families, and be treated as humanely as possible.
The outcome of this case will be an interesting resolution to say the least!
21 Savage – “a lot” ft. J Cole
Children’s Literature: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
(Young) Adult Literature: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez