WASHINGTON — It looks like the White House may have to weigh in on the Biebs.
A petition calling for the deportation of Canadian-born Justin Bieber surpassed the 100,000 signature threshold, meaning the White House must, by its own rules, issue a response.
Titled, “Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card,” was created less than a week ago and quickly amassed the required signatures long before the 30 day deadline for the “We the People” petition program.
“We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture,” the petition states. “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.”
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, it had nearly 121,000 signatures.
Bieber, 19, was arrested last week in Miami Beach and charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after police saw the pop start street racing.
Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez told reporters that Bieber “made some statements that he had consumed some alcohol, and that he had been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication.”
Will the White House actually look at it?
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked about the issue Wednesday in the daily press briefing.
She said the petition program doesn’t necessarily mean action would be taken but it’s rather “an opportunity for the voices of the American people” to be heard.
But the terms of the program, as stated on the White House website, says if a petition meets the 100,000 signature threshold, “it will be reviewed by the administration and we will issue a response.”
Psaki said she would check and see what the criteria was for violating a visa, but noted that individual visa cases are confidential.
The White House has drastically cut back on the number of responses it actually issued in the past year. The Washington Times reports that in the final six months of 2013, only one new petition received a response.
Other petitions, with far fewer signatures than 100,000, have popped up on the website, both supporting and opposing Bieber’s deportation.
A competing petition, created on January 25, calls for keeping Beiber in the United States. It has about 1,800 signatures, and at this rate, would need more than 98,000 more by February 24.
In addition to the charges he faces in Florida, investigators in California are also weighing whether Bieber will face a felony vandalism charge tied to an egg attack there.
Immigration lawyers say convictions on those charges wouldn’t generally lead to deportation for someone like Bieber, who has a visa allowing him to legally live in the United States because of his “extraordinary ability” in the arts.
That’s because those charges aren’t considered to be aggravated felonies or crimes of moral turpitude — the two types of crimes that federal law defines as grounds for the deportation of non-citizen immigrants.
And according to federal law, only violent crimes and sentences longer than a year result in a re-evaluation of a person’s visa status.
Translation for those of you who aren’t legal eagles: Bieber’s probably not going anywhere.
White House and Bieber–they go way back
Not long after Bieber was discovered, he got a high-profile gig to sing alongside Usher at the 2009 “Christmas in Washington,” which the President attends each year. Bieber also performed at the event in 2011.
And Bieber sang his hit song at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2010.
President Obama once recalled a story about mispronouncing the young singer’s name at the 2009 Christmas performance.
“There was this little guy who really sang well, great entertainer. And I was sort of acknowledging all the crowd, and I said, “And give it up for Justin ‘Biber’,” Obama said at a DNC event in April 2011. “I didn’t know him at the time. And everybody yelled, ‘It’s ‘Beeber’.”
He added that his two young daughters, Malia and Sasha, were “mortified when they heard that I had mispronounced his name.”
He also teased Arne Duncan, his secretary of education, for playing basketball at a celebrity tournament, “where he was outscored by Justin Bieber.”
“I’m just saying, Justin is, like, about 5’2″, so please give him a hard time for that if you get a chance,” Obama said in March, 2011 at an event in Boston.
A look through White House transcripts shows that the President also publicly mentioned Bieber just days before his re-election victory in 2012, Obama took the stage at an event in Ohio, where he thanked one of the attendees, named Erin.
“She was pretty excited about meeting me, but she saw Justin Bieber the other day,” he said, to laughter. “So I’m like the second-most exciting person she’s met in the last few days.”
He was asked by an Australian student in November 2011 whether he would consider “teaming up with a high-profile celebrity such as Justin Bieber to appeal to more people.”
“You know, that’s an interesting question,” Obama said in response. “I interact a lot with celebrities…But generally speaking, hopefully if I’m going to be successful, it’s going to be because of the ideas I put forward and not because I’m hanging out with Justin Bieber.”
As the audience laughed, he added: “Although he is a very nice young man, and I’ll tell him you said hi.” (Note: This was before Bieber veered off into his current downward spiral)
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