TIME Immigration

Why We Can’t Just Deport Bieber

Justin Bieber’s highly publicized arrest for DUI and other infractions has led some to compare the Canadian entertainer’s handling by U.S. law enforcement to that of undocumented immigrations.

In particular, the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal has suggested that if Bieber were “poor, obscure and, say, Hispanic” he might be swiftly deported.

The difference, of course, is in the documents.

Bieber resides in the U.S. on an O-1 visa, which is reserved for “individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.”

According to federal law, only violent crimes and sentences longer than 1 year result in a re-evaluation of visa status.

(g) Criminal activity. A condition of a nonimmigrant’s admission and continued stay in the United States is obedience to all laws of United States jurisdictions which prohibit the commission of crimes of violence and for which a sentence of more than one year imprisonment may be imposed. A nonimmigrant’s conviction in a jurisdiction in the United States for a crime of violence for which a sentence of more than one year imprisonment may be imposed (regardless of whether such sentence is in fact imposed) constitutes a failure to maintain status under section 241(a)(1)(C)(i) of the Act.

By contrast, undocumented workers can be arrested and deported with minimal due process of the law. The Obama administration has said it is trying to better utilize government resources with prosecutorial discretion, to focus deportations on those here illegally who have been charged with crimes.

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