Im­mi­gra­tion woes pre­dicted for Bieber

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Michelle McQuigge

LOS AN­GE­LES — Justin Bieber’s court cases on both sides of the U.S.-Cana­dian bor­der might not just lead to more scru­tiny by judges and pros­e­cu­tors, but could also com­pli­cate the pop star’s jet-set­ting ways. Le­gal ex­perts said the de­ci­sion by Toronto au­thor­i­ties to charge Bieber with as­sault on Wed­nes­day makes the singer’s le­gal sit­u­a­tion more com­pli­cated and dif­fi­cult to un­tan­gle. He is al­ready fac­ing a driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence case in Florida and re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for felony van­dal­ism in Los An­ge­les County. An­drew Flier, a crim­i­nal de­fence at­tor­ney who’s rep­re­sented sports stars and ac­tors, said im­mi­gra­tion is­sues are likely Bieber’s big­gest prob­lem at this point. If the singer is con­victed in one or both cases, he could re­ceive ad­di­tional scru­tiny when trav­el­ling from his home­land, Canada to the United States, where Bieber cur­rently lives. “Mul­ti­ple con­vic­tions even on mis­de­meanours could be trou­ble­some to the non-cit­i­zen,” Flier said. Bieber, 19, has pleaded not guilty to DUI, re­sist­ing ar­rest with­out vi­o­lence and driv­ing with­out a valid li­cence in the Mi­ami case. A pre­lim­i­nary tox­i­col­ogy re­port re­leased Thurs­day showed that Bieber tested pos­i­tive for mar­i­juana and the anti-anx­i­ety drug Xanax. The re­port shows no pres­ence of other il­licit drugs in Bieber’s sys­tem. Bieber told po­lice af­ter the ar­rest that he had been smok­ing mar­i­juana and took a pre­scrip­tion drug. Henry Chang, a Toronto-based im­mi­gra­tion lawyer reg­is­tered in both the U.S. and Canada, said Bieber’s close ties to the States would not of­fer him much pro­tec­tion from laws that are both com­plex and vague. Even if the teen had se­cured a green card or other res­i­dency doc­u­ments, Chang said, he could still find him­self be­ing turned away from the U.S. bor­der next time he tries to cross. “These rules of in­ad­mis­si­bil­ity ap­ply to green card hold­ers too, so it’s not like it’s go­ing to pro­tect him,” Chang said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “If he’s a cit­i­zen he’s fine, but even a green card holder is sub­ject to re­moval bars.” Bieber’s ad­mis­si­bil­ity largely hinges on a prin­ci­ple known as mo­ral turpi­tude, Chang said. The le­gal def­i­ni­tion of this con­cept is vague, but the U.S. Board of Im­mi­gra­tion Ap­peals de­scribes such an of­fence as “an act that is per se morally rep­re­hen­si­ble and in­trin­si­cally wrong,” he said. This means the sever­ity of Bieber’s al­leged trans­gres­sions on ei­ther side of the bor­der is largely left up to the dis­cre­tion of the of­fi­cial pro­cess­ing him at the time, Chang said. Bieber has not yet been con­victed of any crimes, but even if con­vic­tions come later, the of­fences fall into a grey area that may al­low him to re­gain en­try to the coun­try. The three charges he racked up last week in Florida wouldn’t sound many alarm bells, Chang said, since driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence, re­sist­ing ar­rest or driv­ing with an ex­pired li­cence are not likely to qual­ify as crimes of mo­ral turpi­tude. Nor, in Chang’s opin­ion, is the Toronto as­sault charge. Chang is more con­cerned about the pos­i­tive tox­i­col­ogy re­port; those tests alone could make cus­toms of­fi­cials leery of al­low­ing Bieber into the coun­try to ful­fil studio com­mit­ments or tour dates, adding a con­vic­tion isn’t nec­es­sary in such cases. “When you start get­ting into drug of­fences, all the am­bi­gu­ity dis­ap­pears,” he said. “Mo­ral turpi­tude is ir­rel­e­vant at that point.” The singer also re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for an egg-toss­ing in­ci­dent that left his neigh­bour’s house with thou­sands of dol­lars in dam­age. If Bieber is charged in that case, a Cal­i­for­nia judge may look at the singer more harshly in light of the Florida and Toronto cases, said Stan Gold­man, a crim­i­nal law pro­fes­sor at Loy­ola Law School, Los An­ge­les. “The fact that you’ve got three is a heck of a lot worse than one,” Gold­man said. A judge might opt to keep Bieber on a long pro­ba­tion sen­tence to make sure he stays out of trou­ble, Gold­man said, cit­ing the case of Lind­say Lohan. The ac­tress has been on some form of pro­ba­tion con­stantly since she took a plea agree­ment af­ter be­ing ar­rested twice for driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence and drug pos­ses­sion in 2007. Nu­mer­ous stars have had their in­ter­na­tional travel cur­tailed be­cause of their le­gal trou­ble, and at­tor­neys cited the United States and Canada as both view­ing any drug of­fences harshly when de­cid­ing im­mi­gra­tion is­sues. Ja­pan has blocked the en­try of the Rolling Stones over drug con­vic­tions and in 1980 de­ported Paul McCart­ney for mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion at Narita In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Michael Niren, im­mi­gra­tion lawyer with Niren and As­so­ci­ates, high­lighted the am­bigu­ous na­ture of mo­ral turpi­tude by spec­u­lat­ing that the Toronto as­sault charge could be grounds for in­ad­mis­si­bil­ity if Bieber was con­victed. Ei­ther way, he said, the teen’s travel itineraries will have to fac­tor in more time spent field­ing ques­tions from im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials. “I think he will have prob­lems. I think he’s go­ing to be sent to se­condary in­spec­tion, he’s go­ing to be asked a lot of ques­tions, and it’s go­ing to be at the dis­cre­tion of the of­fi­cer to say, ‘OK, I’m go­ing to ad­mit you,”’ Niren said. But Niren also of­fered hope to “Beliebers” south of the bor­der. Cus­toms of­fi­cials also have the author­ity to al­low Bieber con­di­tional en­try known as pa­role. Paroled ad­mis­sion to the U.S. usu­ally in­volves cer­tain con­di­tions for a fixed time pe­riod, he said. Pro­fes­sional ath­letes and mu­si­cians have been able to se­cure such ex­emp­tions, but of­fi­cials usu­ally re­serve them for peo­ple en­ter­ing the coun­try on com­pas­sion­ate grounds such as a fu­neral, he said. Mean­while, a South Florida of­fi­cer is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for at­tempt­ing to take a pho­to­graph of Bieber while he was in cus­tody af­ter his ar­rest there. Mi­ami Beach po­lice Sgt. Bobby Her­nan­dez con­firmed Fri­day that a fe­male of­fi­cer is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for pos­si­ble con­duct un­be­com­ing an of­fi­cer. Pun­ish­ments can range from a ver­bal rep­ri­mand to ter­mi­na­tion. The of­fi­cer’s name wasn’t re­leased. Po­lice say the of­fi­cer at­tempted to pho­to­graph Bieber while he was in a tem­po­rary hold­ing cell, and a higher-rank­ing of­fi­cer in­ter­vened to stop the at­tempt.

WAL­TER MI­CHOT / THE MI­AMI HER­ALD

Justin Bieber ap­pears in a south Florida court­room via video link fol­low­ing his ar­rest on Jan. 23.

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