Since Justin Bieber’s arrest last week for DUI and drag racing in Florida, the Internet has exploded with rumors that the pop star might be deported for his crimes. Many may not realize that the teen singer is actually Canadian and has been living and working in the U.S. for years on a visa.
A recent online petition sprang up asking that the U.S. government officially deport Bieber and quickly amassed 200,000 signatures. Though the petition has absolutely no legal significance, it has got some people talking about the possibility that Bieber could be deported for his actions. So how likely is criminal deportation? Keep reading to find out more.
The first thing to make clear is that as of now, there is no risk that Justin Bieber would actually be deported. Though he has been charged with several relatively minor criminal offenses, he has not yet been convicted of anything. The arrest in Miami concerned underage drunk driving and resisting arrest. He also faces possible vandalism charges in Los Angeles after throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house. Despite the bad press, there’s been no actual conviction and without a conviction there will be no deportation.
Though Bieber may not have to worry about deportation in the immediate future, it is still a possibility, according to some immigration law experts, who say that plenty of ordinary immigrants with valid visas have been deported for less. Some immigration rights advocates are even carefully watching the case; saying that they fear Bieber’s fame and fortune will shield him from the dysfunctional and sometimes arbitrary immigration process in the U.S. that so many others must contend with.
Bieber’s current status is that of a legal resident. The singer is living here on what is known as an “O-1” visa. The O-1 visa is handed out to those with “extraordinary abilities” across a range of professions, including athletics, science and the arts. Whether Bieber’s singing qualifies as “extraordinary” is a matter of opinion, it’s clear that he is in the United States on a valid visa.
Those who hold O-1 visas typically must be found guilty of an aggravated felony or another crime involving moral turpitude before they can be deported. Though that sounds like a high bar, the reality is that a range of seemingly minor crimes can qualify as aggravated felonies. According to one immigration advocacy group, a recent immigrant from Trinidad was deported after her shoplifting charge was classified as an aggravated felony.
Though most experts say its unlikely that Bieber will be deported given his current criminal offenses, it is possible that if he continues on his crime spree that deportation might not be far off. Most immigration attorneys say Bieber should be thankful he’s in a position to afford quality criminal defense lawyers, something that is not guaranteed to those in immigration court.
Source: “Justin Bieber: Would US actually deport pop prince?,” by Peter Grier, published at CSMonitor.com.