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State Dept responds to White House petition to deport Justin Bieber, Obama next?

President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber at the Christmas in Washington concert in 2011. After a number of arrests a White House petition to deport Bieber back to Canada has reached 100,000 signatured needed for a response; Jan. 29, 2014
President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber at the Christmas in Washington concert in 2011. After a number of arrests a White House petition to deport Bieber back to Canada has reached 100,000 signatured needed for a response; Jan. 29, 2014
Larry Busacca/Wireimage

Even though the White House and President Barack Obama are busy selling the President economic opportunity program on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 after delivering the State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening, they now they will have to deal with what to do about a "We the People" petition asking the United States government to deport Justin Bieber after reaching 100,000 signatures on Wednesday morning, Jan. 29 the "threshold" for a review and response. The State Department has already made one comment about the petition, but the White House has 30 days to give their own response. Bieber originally from Stratford, Ontario in Canada is in the U.S. on a renewable O-1 visa for "extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics," and used for entertainers. By Wednesday evening, Jan. 29 the petition reached over 170,000 signatures.

The petition entitled "Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card" was created by a "J.A." in Detroit on Jan. 23, after Bieber's Miami, Florida arrest for a DUI and drag racing, although he does not have a green card, but a worker's visa. The petition reads; "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 nations youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society."

Two other petitions were created on "We the People" to counter the one demanding his deportation, but the numbers of signatures amassed thus far combined barely even reach 2000 signatures. White House spokesman Matt Lehrich commented on the petition, giving a generic remark that; "Every petition that crosses the threshold will be reviewed by the appropriate staff and receive a response."

During the State Department's daily briefing on Jan. 29 spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about the petition since the State Department is responsible for revoking visas. Psaki said the petition "doesn't always determine a step will be taken, it's more of another opportunity for the voices of the American people to be heard." Continuing she said; "We're getting down quite a rabbit hole here with Justin Bieber, but ... I will check and see what the visa implications would be for anybody who is found of possibly violating the law."

The Obama administration created the "We the People" petition website as part of a more transparent and interactive government, allowing citizens a platform to voice their concerns, usually the petitions are used for relevant policy issues, but they have in the past descended into the absurd. Last year, a petition to pardon National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reached 100,000 signatures.

The "We the People" site explains; "The right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it's sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."

The 19-year old Billboard topping teen heartthrob is in a lot of legal hot water recently. Earlier this month the police on Jan. 14 raided his Calabasas home in California on suspicion that he egged his neighbour's home on Jan. 9, which amounted to $20,000 in damage. If charged Bieber would face a felony vandalism charge, the prosecutors are still in the process of investigating, and have not made any decision on charges.

Then while in Miami Beach, Florida on Jan. 23, he was arrested on four misdemeanors; drag racing a rented Labourgini, DUI driving under the influence for alcohol, marijuana, and prescriptions medication, driving with an expired license and non-violently resisting arrest. He spent a couple of hours in jail before being released on a $2,500 bond; his mug shot in the jail's orange jumpsuit went viral over social and the press. His lawyer entered a not guilty plea for the singer also on Wednesday, Jan. 29, with plans for a jury trial.

While on the same day that the petition to deport him from the U.S. reached the review mark, Bieber turned himself into to his native Canada, for an assault charge stemming from a Dec. 30, 2013 attack on a limo driver after Bieber attended at Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game at Air Canada Centre, where the limo had been repeatedly struck in the head. The police had been investigating whether the attack was done by Bieber or one of the "members of his entourage," he was with five others. On Wednesday evening Bieber was charged for assault as a summary offence, a misdemeanor at a Toronto police station, where he was released after two hours.

Although President Obama addressed immigration reform in his State of the Union, and his desire for granting illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, what is not addressed is the large numbers of immigrants that are deported for minor charges from the U.S. The major requirement for deportation is conviction of "crimes of moral turpitude," "aggravated felonies," violent crimes with a sentence of over a year in jail. According to Ruben Navarrette in a CNN editorial many immigrants especially undocumented ones face deportation before they are officially charged with a crime at the police station, instead they are just handed over to be deported.

President Obama has a somewhat personal past with the singer that might render the White House's decision on the petition a little lopsided and in favor of Bieber. Prior to his rash of bad boy behavior, Bieber performed at White House events including; twice at Christmas in Washington in 2009 and 2011, the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll, and the President was beaten in a basketball charity match by Bieber in 2011. The President has also mentioned the teen singer a few times when peppering his speeches with youthful pop culture references, most recently during the 2012 Presidential campaign. And of course his daughters, Malia, 15 and Sasha, 12 attended a Bieber concert back in 2011 when his behavior was rated G.

The White House has 30 days to respond, but given Bieber's star factor, and the misdemeanor charges he faces in Florida, he will probably not be deported. However, if he charged for a felony in California, the White House might actually seriously consider the petition. Although in light of the assault charge in Toronto, Bieber might not be too happy to return home to Canada either.


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