Could Prince Harry’s decision to dish all, including perhaps foolishly sharing about taking cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms and weed before coming to America, and in the U.S. as recently as 2020, come back to bite him in his royal behind?
The British and American press continue to press the issue and question whether he could lose his immigration status over his loose lips.
In his memoir Spare (a reference to being the “spare heir” as the younger son of now-King Charles III), Harry, the Duke of Sussex, admitted using cocaine and psilocybin mushrooms, and smoking weed. In an effort to perhaps cleanse his soul, he revealed through his ghostwriter that he smoked weed in high school; after his first date with his now wife, Meghan Markle, in 2016, and most recently in 2020, after he had moved to the U.S. and while he, his wife and son were living at Tyler Perry’s LA home during the lockdown while house-hunting.
“Late at night with everyone asleep, I’d walk the house, checking the doors and windows. Then I’d sit on the balcony or the edge of the garden and roll a joint,” he wrote of his most recent weed-smoking episodes after moving to the U.S.
Harry also opened up about using other drugs like cocaine and ketamine. In fact, he claimed he was tripping pretty hard at a party at actor Courteney Cox’s house when a garbage bin started looking like someone’s head. He wrote: “I stepped on the pedal and the head opened its mouth. A huge open grin. I laughed.”
The admissions have triggered a series of questions over how his drug use might affect his immigration status. While it is unclear what visa exactly Harry is here on, since his wife is a U.S. citizen and could easily sponsor him, there is speculation that he is here on an O visa, which is usually granted to people with “extraordinary abilities,” such as athletes or people in the motion picture or television industry. Such visas usually come up for renewal after three years.
Also, back in 2021, the Times reported that although Prince Harry is eligible to become a U.S. permanent resident immediately and subsequently a U.S. citizen, he will not pursue permanent residency and citizenship in the United States.
That news led to both the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail speculating last week, in a flurry of news articles, that Harry’s admitted drug use in his new memoir could threaten his American residency.
“Harry could be barred from the U.S. … after his admission he has taken drugs,” speculated the Daily Mail in a headline. The Daily Telegraph quoted George Washington University immigration professor Alberto Benítez in a headline that screamed: “Prince Harry ‘should have been denied US residency’ over drug use revealed in memoir.”
Benitez was quoted as saying the son of King Charles III “would have been asked” about his prior drug use upon his application to reside in the United States with his American wife, Meghan.
If he was “truthful in his answers, he should have been denied,” insisted Benítez, director of George Washington University’s Immigration Clinic. If he lied, his visa could now be revoked, Benítez told the Telegraph.
Tiana Lowe, a commentary writer for the Washington Times, was more dramatic, leading with a piece on January 8 before the official release of the Spare memoir with the headline “Biden should deport Prince Harry to kick off immigration crisis crackdown.”
She claimed that the Duke of Sussex “almost surely lied to immigration authorities about his prevalent use of Schedule I drugs and Schedule II narcotics.”
“If Biden is serious about cracking down on the country’s current immigration crisis, there would be no better way to signal his seriousness than to deport a high-profile, wildly privileged prince who, if he did indeed lie to immigration officials, committed a felony,” she said.
What does the O visa law state? According to U.S. authorities, typically applicants with illegal substance history would be denied a visa, but entry is granted on a case-to-case basis. U.S. immigration rules state that an individual’s “current and/or past actions, such as drug or criminal activities … may make the applicant ineligible for a visa.”
Still, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State continue to intensify their focus on alcohol and drug use as these relate to immigration processing. Attorney Michael Skinner of the Skinner Law Firm writes that “under 8 U.S.C. 1182, any alien who is determined … to be a drug abuser or addict, is inadmissible.”
He added: “When a USCIS or consular officer suspects an applicant is a drug addict or harmful alcoholic, the officer will likely refer the applicant to a civil surgeon for a medical review. If the civil surgeon concludes the applicant is a drug addict or harmful alcoholic, any application for a green card or visa will be denied.”
That means that if Harry had owned up to his drug usage earlier, he might have been denied residency, because anyone seeking residency is asked a series of questions about to their criminal and drug history.
But Skinner also notes that “even if a person is already in the United States, he or she could be deported. Under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(ii), ‘any alien who is, or at any time after admission has been, a drug abuser or addict is deportable.’”
Will his own admission make it harder for the Royal Prince to stay in the U.S.? Benítez claims that officials may have already cut Harry some slack because of his status as a member of the royal family. “If it was ‘Fred Jones’ and he had this kind of a [drug] background … he’d have a lot more scrutiny,” Benítez said.
“Many Green Card holders and Permanent Residents have been deported to countries where they never lived for possessing drug paraphernalia,” added attorney Allen Orr, Jr. “They are mostly Black and brown immigrants from heavily policed areas. They should be treated with the same grace as the Duke of Sussex.”
And I agree. Maybe, if he was Haitian or African, he would be for sure. Harry’s millions earned just for airing his dirty laundry is enough to buy him the best immigration attorney anyway. That’s Royal, White privilege for you.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.