A petition has been started to have Canadian-born Justin Bieber deported and barred from the United States after his arrest earlier this week. But is his ability to remain in the U.S. at risk?
As is well known by now, the 19-year-old celebrity was arrested in Miami Beach on Thursday after allegedly drag racing. He faces charges of DUI, resisting arrest (non-violently) and driving with an expired licence. He could have put himself in jeopardy of being deported to his native Canada and barred from entering the United States in the future.
On Thursday, a petition was begun on the White House We the People website. The Obama administration is being asked to deport the "dangerous, reckless, destructive and drug abusing Justin Beiber" because he poses a danger to Americans and is a bad influence on the country's youth.
The administration must consider a petition if it receives 100,000 signatures. At the time of this writing, Saturday morning, the petition has received 15,750 signatures.
Opinion is divided on whether the star's actions can lead to his removal from the United States. It is reported he is in the U.S. on a O-1 visa. An O-1 visa is issued to foreign nationals who are "highly talented or acclaimed persons." Although there is no specified time limit that such a visa can be issued for, it is usually issued for a period of three years and can be renewed. O-1 visas can lead to the issuance of a green card.
Some take the position he cannot be deported based on the nature of the charges he is facing. Under federal immigration law, he could be deported if convicted of an aggravated felony, of a charge that carries a sentence of more than one year in jail, or a crime of moral turpitude." According to immigration attorney Michael Wildes, the charges Bieber faces in Miami Beach would not lead to his deportation. But if he is ultimately charged in the California egging incident in which it is alleged he did more than $20,000 in damages to a neighbour's home, he could be facing a felony charge, making his deportation more likely.
But Len Saunders, a Washington state attorney who defends Canadians who are accused of breaching U.S. laws, has a different take. Saunders said Bieber's admission to police that he smoked marijuana prior to the drag racing incident, could result in his deportation. Many Canadians have been denied entry into the U.S. if they admit to having used cannabis recently. Canadians are also barred from the United States if their purpose is to smoke marijuana in a jurisdiction where, under state law, it is legal to do so.
Saunders also referred to Bieber's Florida police report where it is noted he is an American citizen. Although it is possible he is, the attorney noted he would have had to have applied for a green card when he was 12 and could only have applied for citizenship when he turned 18, making it highly unlikely he has citizenship. If Bieber lied to police and said he was an American citizen, that would be grounds to deport him from the United States.
Either way, his future in the U.S. appears to be uncertain.