Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Justin Time

Normally, we don't wade into stories like this one. But today, we must. Why? You'll understand later.

Last week, the world was shocked when Miami Beach police arrested Justin Bieber for drag racing (obviously not the legal kind!), drunk driving, and driving without a license. While many people weren't shocked by another incident of "Bieber Behaving Badly", they were shocked by the emerging possibility of Justin Bieber facing deportation. Wait... What??!!

No really, it's a possibility. While it's not looking likely just yet, that equation may change depending on how many criminal offenses the young pop star is convicted of. And why is that? He's a Canadian citizen who's living in the US on a special work visa mean for immigrants with "special talent(s) in the performing arts". And now, President Obama will have to answer a petition on calling for Bieber's deportation.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, here's where we pivot back to important policy. While the growing debate over Justin Bieber has brought more attention to Justin Bieber, it's also managed to return attention to the one issue House Speaker John Boehner (R-Sunny D) has tried so hard to spin far away from Capitol Hill. This is the same issue that President Obama brought to attention (again) during his State of the Union address last night.

And this is the same issue that G-O-TEA backbenchers like Rep. Joe Heck (R-Remember That Dude?) have been attempting to have both ways on. They've said they want reform. But when push comes to shove, they quickly run away to their favorite political "safe place"... You know, somewhere like good ol' "BENGHAZIEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

But now, this actually important issue is back at center stage. And to a certain extent, we can thank Justin Bieber for it. (Snark?)

Here's what's so jarring about what's happening this week. Justin Bieber isn't in jail now, unlike the many immigrants who are sent to Henderson Detention Center for less severe charges. And he has a very expensive and juiced-up legal team representing him in court, unlike the many immigrants who can't afford any legal representation. And he's a celebrity who easily commands media attention, unlike the millions of American families who live in constant fear of being torn apart.

While it's unclear how much more executive power President Obama can wield over immigration policy, it's crystal clear that the G-O-TEA run House has failed to do what most House members probably support, the vast majority of Americans definitely support, the Senate already passed last year, and the President wants to sign into law this year.

So what's the wait? When will be a better time to finally get this done? However one feels about Justin Bieber, it's critical to remember that his legal saga only touches the surface of the mountain of reasons why Congress can't avoid comprehensive immigration reform.

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