Obama administration response to Justin Bieber deportation petition forthcoming
A petition created seven days ago asking the United States federal government to deport pop singer Justin Bieber back to his native Canada will now see an official response from the Obama administration, in accordance with its policies stating that any such petition filed on whitehouse.gov will be replied to if its digital signatures reach six figures. The petition, originally filed by an individual who identifies himself only as “J.A.” from Detroit, Michigan, has already received more than two hundred thousand signatures, twice the number required for a response. However, the Obama response is likely to be a muted one.
The public uproar has stemmed from Bieber’s recent series of legal run-ins ranging from his arrest on suspicion of DUI to his alleged egging of his neighbor’s house in Los Angeles. The singer’s friends have also been caught driving his cars recklessly in various parts of the city over the past year, with Bieber typically in the passenger seat. The petition calls for him to be deported, which would require him to end his current primary residency in Los Angeles, and for his green card to be revoked, which would ostensibly prevent him from being able to perform concerts in the United States or even travel across the border to promote his latest album.
President Obama created the “We The People” petition system to give a voice to the online public, and while various serious petitions have been posted about contentious social issues including gun control and have been responded to accordingly, some of the petitions have been made in jest and in such instances the White House has responded with levity. For instance when a petition was filed asking the federal government to create a Star Wars style “Death Star” and it received sufficient signatures, the government’s reply was simply “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For” in reference to one of the movie’s more famous lines. While the Bieber petition may have been created and signed at least partially in jest by those who simply don’t care for his music or his public persona, the response could be a legally tricky one.
Even if Bieber is convicted of DUI and property damage and the other various legal charges before him, none of these are federal crimes. While there is effectively no chance of the Obama administration deporting Bieber based on a petition, it still must reply – and must do so in a manner which doesn’t step on the toes of the local or state law enforcement and court system which will decide Bieber’s fate. So even if the White House is tempted to respond in jest to the petition, it will have to be careful to do so in a manner which doesn’t interfere with the actual wheels of justice.
It’s not clear, however, how serious of a response the administration can come up with for a petition whose closing summation reads “We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.” That said, in the time it took to write this news item, the petition gained approximately sixteen hundred more signatures, so the response will be a high profile one by default even if it doesn’t say much.
The White House may also end up having to respond to one or more of the various current petitions asking that Bieber not be deported, four of which are among the last twenty petitions created. However the most popular among them thus far has only about three thousand signatures, far short of the requisite hundred thousand.