Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Deport Justin Bieber?

By Ruben Navarrette
updated 5:23 PM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
Justin Bieber walks on a beach in Panama on Saturday, January 25, two days after he was charged in Miami with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license. The pop star is accompanied by his new girlfriend, model Chantel Jeffries, who is wearing the orange bikini. Justin Bieber walks on a beach in Panama on Saturday, January 25, two days after he was charged in Miami with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license. The pop star is accompanied by his new girlfriend, model Chantel Jeffries, who is wearing the orange bikini.
HIDE CAPTION
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Justin Bieber was arrested for racing under the influence of drugs, alcohol
  • Ruben Navarrette: Bieber has an extraordinary knack for getting into trouble
  • He says Bieber's star status doesn't mean he should get special treatment
  • Navarrette: If Bieber is convicted, he should get a one-way ticket out of U.S.

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter @rubennavarrette.

(CNN) -- Canada's most valuable export? Oil. Its most problematic? Justin Bieber.

You know it's going to be a strange week when the hashtag #DeportBieber. is trending on Twitter.

Guess what? Nineteen-year-old singer and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber -- who was arrested this week in Miami Beach for street racing in a $250,000 Lamborghini while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driving without a valid license, and resisting arrest -- is not a U.S. citizen. Rather, Bieber is a citizen of his native Canada.

Lucky Canada.

Bieber is in the United States on an O-1 work visa that was designed to retain foreigners with "extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics."

What Bieber has is an extraordinary knack for getting into trouble. Far away from Miami, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating whether Bieber was involved in an egging of his neighbor's home in a gated community in Calabasas, California.

While other teenage celebrities might aspire to be crowned "America's sweetheart," Bieber -- given his childish, narcissistic and self-destructive antics -- seems to be angling for a more dubious title: "America's brat."

Bieber isn't known for doing smart things, but the one smart thing that Team Bieber did is what the rich and spoiled often do when they land in jail in South Florida. Bieber's manager hired Roy Black, the Miami-based celebrity defense lawyer who is as skilled in front of a television camera as in front of a jury.

Osbourne: Bieber needs a good slap
What the blank?!

Black said this week that he hoped the case against Bieber would proceed "as any other case would."

C'mon, Roy. Really? If this case had proceeded like any other -- or at least, like many others -- your client might be in Calgary by now. The immigration enforcement apparatus does not look favorably upon non-U.S. citizen foreigners who commit crimes and get arrested.

You can have a green card or a visa that allows you to live in the United States legally while you work or study, and you can still get deported if you get crossways with the law. Think of it this way: The U.S. government grants permission to some people to stay in this country, and it can revoke it, too. It happens every day, especially here in the Southwest and along the U.S.-Mexico border, for crimes ranging from shoplifting to drunk driving to selling ice cream without a permit. Americans either don't hear about these cases, or they don't care because the person being removed from the country isn't rich and famous.

Of course, Bieber hasn't been convicted of anything yet. In fact, according to published reports relying on a source close to the investigation, Bieber's blood-alcohol level was below 0.08% in two breath tests administered by authorities. The 0.08% mark is the legal limit for most drivers in Florida. For drivers under 21, the state has a lower threshold for proving one is intoxicated: 0.02%. A source told CNN that Bieber blew .011% and .014% in the two Breathalyzer tests. However, police say Bieber admitted to them that he had been drinking, using marijuana and taking prescription pills.

The point is that, in many cases, when dealing with foreigners who find themselves in police custody, we wouldn't even have gotten this far. Again, back in the real world of law enforcement, there are police stations -- for instance, in Southern California -- that allow federal immigration agents to sit at a desk in the squad room. And when a police officer walks in with a suspect in handcuffs who looks like he might just be undocumented (read: "Mexican"), the catch of the day gets passed on to the immigration agent before he is even fingerprinted. So there's no record of the transaction. And if the agent determines that the person in custody is in the country illegally, he takes possession and immediately transports him to a nearby Border Patrol substation to begin deportation proceedings.

It's all very efficient, and journalists like me wouldn't even know it was happening if we didn't have helpful sources within police departments telling us that it's happening.

In Bieber's case, he was not handed over to immigration agents and hustled out the back door of the police department to begin deportation proceedings. Instead, Bieber was released from jail after he made a brief appearance through a video link before a Miami judge, who set a "standard" $2,500 bond.

Bieber has an estimated net worth of about $130 million.

I bet that, right about now, many of those Mexican immigrants who were deported because they came to the attention of local police officers for a burned-out taillight, or for not making a complete stop at an intersection, are wishing that they had been a rich, white kid with marginal music ability and too much money. If so, things might have gone differently for them.

Meanwhile, Congress seems to be getting ready to debate how to fix the immigration system. The major question will be what to do with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. But along the way, lawmakers must also revisit and revamp the unfair O-1 work visa program. There is enough favoritism in the immigration system as it is. If people come from certain countries or have certain skills, they're more likely to get in. We don't need more of that brand of preferential treatment for singers, actors or ice skaters.

Just like we don't need a certain Canadian import. If Bieber is convicted of the alleged crimes in South Florida, he should get what many other foreigners have already received for less serious infractions: a one-way ticket out of the country.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT