Celebrity status doesn’t grant immunity

Colin McConnell

by Emily Alvarenga

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We’ve all been there: obsessed with a band, actor or singer. As we grew up, we learned to look up to celebrities in the spotlight and now it’s even more intense. Little girls as young as 10 or 11 are infatuated with One Direction and Taylor Lautner. This wasn’t really a problem, until the stars decided to break the rules. Recently, beloved pop-star sensation Justin Bieber was arrested after drag racing down the streets of Miami Beach while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

His offense is common. In California, there are about 588 DUI arrests each day, according to Statistic Brain. But the real problem is his spot in the limelight. As a celebrity, millions of children worldwide idolize him. His crimes become a much bigger problem when he decided to put himself and others in harm’s way while being followed by the paparazzi. His actions are reported daily. With it being noted where he eats breakfast and what he wears to the gym, it’s nearly impossible not to cause a scene when something of such a greater magnitude happens. [quote]Bieber is looked up to by millions of fans in almost every city across the world. and he is setting a terrible example for them.[/quote]

This debacle becomes even more serious when his fame conflicts with his ability to be punished. Bieber is originally from Canada and came to America in 2007 when he was just 13 years old to pursue his musical dream. He made it big after a while, getting a record deal and securing himself an O-1 work visa, which is specifically designed for foreigners with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.” But what many don’t know is when a guest in the U.S. gets arrested, he or she is usually deported within weeks of their trial. Immigration regulators aren’t one to deal with criminals who aren’t even theirs to begin with when they have more serious matters to worry about.

“My little sister thinks he’s God,” San Diego State business sophomore Marcia Kohn said. “And when he got arrested all she would go around saying is ‘free Bieber.’ She doesn’t even know how much he deserved to be in that jail cell.”

[quote]So why is Bieber still here? The answer to that comes from his screaming fans. [/quote]Because of his fame and his net worth of just about $130 million, Bieber was able to hire the best lawyer and give the authorities no choice but to try him as a citizen, letting him make bail and await his trial.

As if the public knew Bieber’s trial wouldn’t be a fair one, someone created an official petition on the White House website to have him deported and his visa revoked the very same day he was arrested. The petition states that Bieber is “not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth”, which is quite reasonable. The petition needed 100,000 signatures within a month to be passed on to Congress and it received more than double that, with 265,448 as of March 5.

With that, I decided to do a little experiment of my own. I went down Campanile Walkway and asked 10 different students their opinions on what should come of Bieber. Only one of them told me that he should be allowed to stay because of the fame he has created for himself. All of the other nine students told me that he should have been gone as soon as he was put under arrest. If my small sample and the not so small petition mean anything about the public sentiment toward this foreign criminal, why hasn’t he been deported already?

The immigration system is having enough problems as it is, and really doesn’t need Bieber’s help to show how biased it has become over the years. If people come to the U.S. with “extraordinary abilities,” it’s much more likely that they will be welcomed with open arms and that alone doesn’t shed a very positive light on our country. We don’t need Bieber to walk around and act like he can get away with anything. Not only does it show young kids that they can be just like him, but it also shows how flawed our system truly is. If Bieber is convicted, he should without a doubt get what any other foreigner has and will continue to get–a one-way ticket out of the country.

Photo courtesy of Colin McConnel, MCT

 

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