Monday, February 3, 2014

Will Justin Bieber be deported? A legal analysis

Is Justin Beiber going to be “Deported”? Justin Bieber is an internationally-recognized pop star who has recently gained notoriety, not for his singing or performing abilities, but for his repeated run-ins with the law. In January of this year alone, sources have reported that Bieber egged his neighbor’s house in California, allegedly causing $20,000 in damages; that he was arrested in Miami and charged with driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and driving with an expired license; and that he was charged in connection with an alleged assault of a limo driver in December after he turned himself in to the Toronto police. Although this type of behavior is fairly expected, if not common, among both celebrities and teenagers in general, Bieber’s legal issues could potentially have much farther-reaching consequences than how they would affect other teenage boys. Because Justin Bieber is originally from Canada, he is required to apply for a visa in order to be allowed to live and work in the United States. He is currently in the country on an O-1 visa, which is granted to people with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics” and which allows him to temporarily live and work here. However, under current immigration law, Bieber’s legal troubles could potentially subject him to deportation or render him “inadmissible,” meaning that he would not be able to renew his visa in the future. These possibilities are discussed in further detail below. Deportability 8 USC 1227 lists the reasons why an alien who is already present in the United States can be subject to removal from the United States. If Bieber is ultimately convicted of some or all of the crimes with which he is charged, he could be deported under 8 USC 1227(a)(2) for committing a crime involving moral turpitude, for having multiple criminal convictions, for having committed an aggravated felony, or for any combination of the three. However, because Bieber has only been accused, but not convicted, of egging his neighbor’s house and assaulting a limo driver, it is too early to predict whether he will ultimately be deported from the U.S. Alternatively, now that a White House petition calling for Bieber’s deportation has acquired more than 100,000 signatures in one month—the number of signatures that require the White House to answer the petition—perhaps the White House will address the issue before Bieber has a chance to make it through the court system. Inadmissibility
8 USC 1182 provides an extensive list of the kinds of aliens who are not eligible to receive visas or be admitted into the United States. If Justin Bieber is ultimately convicted of some or all of the crimes with which he has been charged, he could be deemed inadmissible under 8 USC 1182(a)(2). That section addresses the inadmissibility of aliens who have been convicted of certain crimes, or multiple crimes, or both. Nevertheless, it is still too early to tell whether Bieber will be deemed inadmissible and unable to renew his O-1 visa because, again, he has yet to be convicted of any of his pending charges. As a practical matter, it seems fairly unlikely that Justin Bieber will be deemed inadmissible or will face deportation. He has the means to hire prominent defense attorneys who will do their best to ensure that Bieber is either not convicted of any of his pending charges, or that his convictions will not affect his immigration status. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, Bieber’s status as a famous pop star will be useful in influencing a judge to be more lenient in deciding how to convict and sentence Bieber so he can avoid the negative immigration consequences that accompany a criminal record. However, Bieber’s situation is not typical of the majority of aliens who have experience with the United States’ criminal justice system; many aliens are unable to afford a private attorney to represent them, and judges are much less willing to be forgiving in regards to convicting and sentencing them. So, while Bieber will probably be safe for now, thousands of other aliens—who may not have money or status, but who do have jobs and families and other connections to this country—are being deported or denied entry to the U.S. every day. Neil Fleischer is an attorney who has been practicing immigration law since 2000. He is based out of Cincinnati Ohio and has clients throughout the world. Lisa Splawinski is a second-year law student at the University of Cincinnati and a law clerk at the Fleischer Law Firm who is interested in practicing immigration law after graduation.

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