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Can’t We Just Deport Justin Bieber?

Justin Bieber?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????OK, so my apologies ahead of time to those of you who have children who like Justin Bieber or enjoy his music.  My children are still (mercifully) way too young to know who he is or the shenanigans he gets himself involved in.

What I did not know until his recent arrest in Miami is that the young Mr. Bieber is not a U.S. citizen; rather, I am informed that Mr. Bieber is in the United States as a nonimmigrant (perhaps in an O-1 nonimmigrant status, which status is reserved for foreign nationals of extraordinary ability).  In Mr. Bieber’s case, the standard for an O-1 nonimmigrant is actually a lower standard; that is, instead of proving to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) that he’s an alien of extraordinary ability, because he’s an “artist or entertainer” (so they say), the standard is showing that he’s an alien of “distinction.”  But I digress.

My understanding is that Mr. Bieber and R&B singer Khalil Sharieff were arrested on January 23 while drag-racing in Miami Beach.  According to news reports, Mr. Bieber was charged with driving under the influence (“DUI”), resisting arrest and using an expired driver’s license.  He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Some news outlets also reported that Mr. Bieber initially resisted arrest, cursed at police officers, and also told police that he had consumed alcohol, pot and prescription drugs (this all according to the police).  His next appearance in court is May 5.

Of course, the arrest (and related arrogance) of a young pop star consumed the media for days, if not weeks.  What was more interesting to me, however, is when some media outlets started reporting that people were calling for Mr. Bieber to be deported (actually, officially called “removed”) from the United States.

For example, a petition was lodged with the White House to have Mr. Bieber deported.  The petition was created the day of his arrest, and it urged the White House to revoke Mr. Bieber’s permission to be in the country.

We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture. We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing, Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation’s youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.

First off, as noted above, I don’t believe that Mr. Bieber has a “green card”.  But apart from that, over 100,000 people have signed on to the petition.  Even Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, is on board. “As a dad with three daughters, is there someplace I can sign?” he asked with a laugh, when prodded by the hosts of Chesapeake-based FM99’s “Rumble in the Morning.”  The White House is obligated to respond to petitions that reach more than 100,000 names.  Still waiting on their response at this point.

OK, so this all got me thinking.  Could Justin Bieber actually be removed from the United States as a result of this incident?

Immigration consequences attach to foreign nationals who have been “convicted” of certain crimes, as well as sometimes even to foreign nationals who admit to committing certain crimes for which they were not convicted, or whom the government has “reason to believe” are involved in certain criminal activities.  Because Mr. Bieber (I presume) is lawfully in the United States, he would be subject to the grounds of deportability under section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, and possibly even the bars to a finding of good moral character at under section 101(f) of the INA.

I’ve had an opportunity to review Mr. Bieber’s Complaint / Arrest Affidavit (and I must admit, it makes for some very interesting reading if you don’t mind the “f” bomb).

Mr. Bieber was charged with violating section 316.193 of Florida Statutes, which generally relates to DUI offices.  This section of law includes several subsections, and it’s not clear from the Complaint / Arrest Affidavit under which subsection he was charged.  Nevertheless, as no one was hurt or (thankfully) killed in the incident, it seems reasonable to conclude that he was charged under a subsection that would not result in his being convicted of, e.g., an aggravated felony (for immigration purposes)[1] or a crime involving moral turpitude.[2]  The other two charges likely do not have negative immigration consequences as well.  So, he appears safe, as far as these charges go anyway.

However, if the young Mr. Bieber did admit to police that he abused drugs, this could be a big problem for him.  The INA that provides that “[a]ny alien who is, or at any time after admission has been, a drug abuser or addict is deportable.”

Of course, I don’t wish any ill-will on Mr. Bieber, but if all this was the case, my children might not ever ask me whether they can see him at the Times Union Center or SPAC as they’re growing up!


[1] The term “aggravated felony” is defined at section 101(a)(43) of the INA, and now includes some 50 different offenses. While some of these offenses, such as murder, rape, and kidnapping, would sound like aggravated felonies to the layperson, a good number of the offenses in the definition do not readily appear heinous enough to be termed “aggravated felonies,” and based upon case law, some DUI violations can be considered aggravated felonies.

[2]  The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) defines a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude as “conduct which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.”


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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

David W. Meyers, Esq. is managing partner of Meyers & Meyers, LLP. David works with individuals, businesses and higher education institutions helping them resolve any issues regarding immigration, citizenship and naturalization for themselves or their employees.

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