- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The petition asking the White House to deport Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber has been wildly successful, taking just six days to collect the 100,000 online signatures needed to earn a presidential response.

Hours after the petition crossed the signature threshold in the U.S., Mr. Bieber, 19, turned himself in to police in Toronto to answer assault charges stemming from an incident last month.

In the U.S., Mr. Bieber has had two run-ins with the law in recent weeks.

The State Department told reporters it was checking on what criteria it would take to revoke the visa of someone in Mr. Bieber’s position, but referred questions about the petition itself to the White House, which didn’t respond to a request seeking comment.

It could be a long time before they do respond to the petition — some previous successful petitions have gone more than two years without a reply.

Mr. Bieber was arrested in Florida last week on charges of drunken driving and resisting arrest after taking part in a street drag race.

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He is entitled to be in the U.S. on a special visa made available to actors, musicians, academics, high-profile scientists and others the government deems exceptional cases. But his drunken-driving arrest — which followed an egging incident in Los Angeles — prompted a number of people to demand he be kicked out.

“We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture. We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing, Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked,” the petition on WhiteHouse.gov reads. “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’s original sponsor is anonymous. The White House releases only the initials and location of the person who first filed the petition.

On Wednesday morning, the petition crossed the 100,000 threshold that the White House says guarantees an official response, but it was still going strong late in the day. As of the middle of the afternoon, the petition was drawing signatures at a rate of nearly 10,000 an hour.

If the petition keeps up its frenetic pace, it could become the most popular one in the three-year history of the White House’s We the People project. The current leading petition, from 2012, asked the White House to designate the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. That got 367,180 signatures in the time allotted.

In its response to that petition, the White House said it generally wouldn’t comment on matters that are better left for the courts or law enforcement agencies — and that could end up applying in the case of Mr. Bieber.

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The deportation petition sparked several copycats also calling for his removal.

Bieber fans started counterpetitions on the WhiteHouse.gov website to defend their idol.

“The whole idea of Justin Drew Bieber getting deported, is completely unfair. He doesn’t deserve this,” one of those petitions says. “With your help, we can stop it. He’s human. He’s not perfect. The media sees the bad side of him.”

The petitions asking that Mr. Bieber be allowed to stay were not faring so well, with the most popular of them totaling fewer than 2,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

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

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