Skip to main content

Is Justin Bieber getting special treatment?

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • White House won't comment on petition asking for the pop star to be deported
  • The petition raises some serious questions about immigration law enforcement
  • 10% of those deported between 1997 and 2007 were legally living in the U.S.

Washington (CNN) -- Justin Bieber is allowed to stay in the United States -- for now.

The White House won't comment on a petition signed by more than 270,000 asking for the pop star to be deported for his repeated starring role in famous-people-behaving-badly.

You might not care about the Canadian and his "beliebers," but the 20-year-old's misbehavior and run-ins with the law raise some serious questions about immigration law enforcement. Like, is Bieber getting some serious special treatment?

President Barack Obama has deported more people than any other president, causing him to be known as the "deporter-in-chief" in some sectors of the immigration community.

But isn't Bieber here legally? He sure is. But it's not only illegal immigrants who are receiving deportation orders.

Obama and Bieber share kiss on 'SNL'
A new deportation policy?
Is race holding up immigration reform?
The White House won't comment on a petition signed by more than 270,000 people asking for Justin Bieber to be deported for his alleged crimes. In January, Bieber was charged with driving under the influence in Miami and he also has a pending assault charge and separate vandalism charges for egging his neighbor's house. It's just the latest development in a series of troubles for the pop star. The White House won't comment on a petition signed by more than 270,000 people asking for Justin Bieber to be deported for his alleged crimes. In January, Bieber was charged with driving under the influence in Miami and he also has a pending assault charge and separate vandalism charges for egging his neighbor's house. It's just the latest development in a series of troubles for the pop star.
Justin Bieber's troubled timeline
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Justin Bieber\'s troubled timeline Justin Bieber's troubled timeline

The Immigration Policy Center estimated that 10% of the people deported between 1997 and 2007 were legally living in the United States.

While the Obama administration deported nearly 1.6 million people in the last four years, it's unclear how many were in the country legally.

The administration doesn't reveal those statistics. An immigration tracking division of Syracuse University, TRAC, is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security for failing to release a wide range of data on deportations and detentions.

But immigration advocates believe the number has gone up since Obama came into office, not only due to an increase in deportations, but also because of anecdotal evidence.

They are seeing an increase in home raids of legal residents and there are stories like that of Navy veteran Howard Dean Bailey, who was deported in 2010 over a years-old drug offense.

Yes, legal residents are getting kicked out because of a previous crime.

According to a 1996 immigration law, it doesn't matter how long ago people committed their crime and the types of crimes eligible for deportation are vast and expanding.

For instance, shoplifting and marijuana possession often qualify.

Justin Bieber has a lot of potential charges under his belt.

In January he was charged with driving under the influence in Miami. He also has a pending assault charge and separate vandalism charges for egging his neighbor's house.

As with all deportations, the president has the "inherent power to choose which cases to act on," said Richard A. Boswell, immigration law professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. It's called "prosecutorial discretion."

Obama said he can't stop deportations of immigrants, but maybe he can

But fortunately for Bieber -- and possibly the President who would upset millions of teen fans -- is that his DUI is not a deportable offense. His vandalism charge probably isn't either. His assault charge might be, experts say.

Matthew Kolodziej, legislative fellow at the Immigration Policy Center, said Bieber could potentially be charged with a crime of moral turpitude, which he described as "an abstract concept whose definition has expanded over the years."

In sum, it's a judgment of a person's character and intent for purposes of immigration.

"A good immigration lawyer won't let that happen and I'm sure (Bieber) will be very well represented," Kolodziej said.

Bieber also has another advantage. He never got a green card. Bieber is in the country on a visa for people with "extraordinary" abilities.

His visa has to be renewed at some point, however, and moral turpitude could be taken into consideration.

But, like Kolodziej said, his well-paid legal team probably won't let that happen.

Bieber's attorneys are reportedly working out a plea deal for some of Bieber's crimes. If his legal team is any good, they would advise him that even a plea doesn't protect him from future immigration consequences.

But for many legal immigrants, they don't have the resources to hire top immigration and criminal attorneys to help navigate the system.

You get what you pay for.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Justin Bieber
updated 1:49 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Tom Hanks doesn't need to bring a present to a wedding. His dance moves are the gift that keeps on giving.
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Justin Bieber was in serious damage control mode after a video of him telling a racist joke to friends surfaced.
updated 1:56 PM EDT, Tue March 11, 2014
Don't ask Justin Bieber about Selena Gomez. It's a touchy subject.
updated 3:55 PM EST, Thu March 6, 2014
A Florida court technician has the job of blurring Justin Bieber's private parts on jail video before you can see it.
updated 7:28 AM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
Police searching Justin Bieber's limo found illegal drugs and paraphernalia, a police report said.
updated 5:06 PM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
Justin Bieber's focusing on making new music in the hip-hop capital of Atlanta, while lawyers in three other cities prepare to defend him in court.
updated 8:24 PM EST, Thu January 30, 2014
Justin Bieber was under the influence of alcohol, pot and Xanax when police stopped him for drag racing in Miami Beach, police documents allege.
updated 10:01 AM EDT, Sat March 15, 2014
Several photographs of Justin Bieber showing his tattoos to police were released to the media.
updated 8:56 PM EST, Sat January 25, 2014
A rich kid gets pulled over driving a yellow Lamborghini in Miami Beach by police and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence while allegedly street racing.
updated 4:18 PM EST, Wed February 19, 2014
Judging by his mugshot, Justin Bieber didn't seem to be too bothered by his arrest.
updated 5:13 PM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
Pop star Justin Bieber was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license.
updated 8:17 AM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
CNN's John Berman re-enacts the conversation Justin Bieber had with police during his arrest.
updated 9:11 PM EST, Wed February 26, 2014
Here's yet another time when I'm oh-so-thankful my kids are too young to a) be Justin Bieber fans and b) know anything about his arrest.
updated 5:33 PM EST, Thu February 6, 2014
See who's in the pop star's inner circle.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun January 26, 2014
Justin Bieber turned 19 on March 1. He won't be able to claim the "teen" in his pop star title for much longer.
updated 12:47 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Bieber was raised in a Christian household by his evangelical mother. Check out other stars who are religious.
ADVERTISEMENT