- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2014

The White House on Friday said it wouldn’t comment on the petition to deport Justin Bieber, which was filed in January and became the second-most popular petition on the president’s website.

In an unsigned answer, the White House said commenting could interfere with ongoing criminal investigations into Mr. Bieber’s behavior — and instead, the White House used the chance to pontificate on the need for immigration reform.

“Not only is it the right thing to do morally, it’s the right thing for our country: Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next 20 years. For those of you counting at home, that’s 12.5 billion concert tickets — or 100 billion copies of Mr. Bieber’s debut album,” the White House said.

The White House said Congress must streamline legal immigration and crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, but must offer illegal immigrants already here a path to citizenship.

Roger Skrzynski II, the Michigan man who created the petition to deport Mr. Bieber, said that sounded like the wrong solution to immigration.

“Maybe lightening up the laws on illegals and giving them all citizenship isn’t the path Americans want because they don’t want people from foreign countries coming here and breaking their laws,” he said.

He wrote the deportation petition in January after Mr. Bieber, a Canadian music star here on a special visa for artists, academics and performers, had several run-ins with the law — including being arrested after police said he engaged in a drunken drag race in Miami Beach, Fla.

The petition proved to be wildly popular, earning 273,968 signatures in the 30 days it was active — the second-most of any petition, and well more than the 100,000 required to earn a White House reply.

But the reply didn’t provide any hint as to what the president thinks of Mr. Bieber’s status or his music.

Mr. Bieber is in the U.S. on an O-1 visa. They are valid as long as the recipient isn’t convicted of a crime of violence, and Mr. Bieber hasn’t been charged with anything that would qualify under that definition, meaning he is likely safe from deportation.

The highest-scoring petition of all time was a 2012 plea asking that Westboro Baptist Church be declared a hate group.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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