(NEW YORK) — As Justin Bieber’s legal troubles grow, so does the possibility that immigration officials could send the pop star back to Canada, where he was born.
Bieber’s arrest early Thursday morning in Miami Beach for allegedly drag racing and driving under the influence — first-degree misdemeanors — are not necessarily crimes that would lead to deportation, New York City immigration attorney Michael Wildes, whose firm’s clients have included John Lennon, told ABC News.
“But if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) wanted to go after him, they could make a case,” Wildes said. “That and the eggs is opening files in multiple government agencies and states, and could make it more likely.”
The “eggs” Wildes referred to is the ongoing Los Angeles police investigation into a neighbor’s accusation that Bieber threw eggs at his house and caused $20,000 worth of damage. Police searched the 19-year-old singer’s home Jan. 14 for any connection between him and the egg-tossing incident and arrested a member of Bieber’s entourage, Lil Za, for alleged drug possession during the search. Bieber has not been charged in the egg-throwing incident, but he could face a felony charge of vandalism if evidence indicates he was the culprit.
Problems could arise if Bieber is convicted of an aggravated felony. Foreigners, such as Bieber, who are legal permanent residents can be deported if they are convicted of a serious crime, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Bieber currently resides in the United States on an O-1 visa, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The government issues this type of visa to people with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics,” according to the State Department’s website.
If a crime is not a felony but involves “moral turpitude,” that is, it shocks the conscience of a state, local or federal prosecutor, there is the possibility ICE could review a person’s legal status, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
See Justin Bieber’s Arrest Report
Wildes, a former federal prosecutor, said, “DUI and drag racing are not crimes involving moral turpitude,” but “if every week something else happens, the government will look at it.”
“The young man is an extraordinary talent, and he’s a teenager,” Wildes said. “The government may be waiting for his conduct and maturity to catch up with his talent.”
Meanwhile, a petition is already circulating on Whitehouse.gov by folks who would like to see Bieber sent back to Canada.
“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,” the petition reads.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Frank Pallotta, CNN Newswire
Natalie Crofts, KSL.com