In 1972, John Lennon was fighting deportation, but thanks to the support of fans and a clever attorney, the music legend won a victory that paved the way for Obama’s modern immigration policies.
Legal history truly can be interesting.
42 years ago John Lennon faced deportation because of a drug possession charge. According to the AP, his attorney, Leon Wildes, used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain evidence that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) used its own discretion to defer non-priority deportations. Once that fact was revealed, the INS was forced to set-up standards for when a deportation would be deferred. Leon Wildes convinced a court that John Lennon met those standards and a rock legend was saved from returning to old England.
Fast forward to the present.
Now Legal scholars argue that the precedent established by that case make up the underpinnings of President Obama’s authority to defer deportation under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. A program which has been under political fire as conservative critics argue that it’s the cause for the recent surge in child immigrants at the nation’s borders.
“The remarkable work of Leon Wildes really led to the old agency of INS making its policy about prosecutorial discretion and non-priority status public for the first time,” according to Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, a law professor at The Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law.
John Lennon’s immigration case was one of the most high-profile of its time. Lennon was vehemently against the war in Vietnam and told people at antiwar rallies that the best way to end the war was to vote against Nixon.
Nixon responded by saying that John Lennon was allowed into the country illegally and needed to be deported home. Letters started pouring into the INS begging the agency to let Lennon stay. Joan Baez wrote, “Keeping people confined to certain areas of the world” was “one of the reasons we’ve had six thousand years of war instead of six thousand years of peace.”
The current immigration crisis is equally high-profile. Critics continue to question the legality of the INS power to defer deportation, as the 2012 program extends that executive authority in new ways. As reported by the Inquisitr, Obama may stretch that authority even further.
Nevertheless, according to Leon Wildes, John Lennon would be happy to have had a hand in it saying,
“All I can say is, John Lennon is smiling in his grave, he helped accomplish that.”
[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]