A day like today, but 50 years ago, the then American president Richard Nixon began the deportation process John Lennon and Yoko Onodue to the couple’s activism against the Vietnam War.
The couple, who at that time professed love, and rejected any kind of expression of war, refused to leave the United States and had to face a long legal process that lasted four years.
Richard Nixon, who was seeking his reelection and despised Lennon’s position, used all his resources so that the musician of English origin and the plastic artist left the United States.
As the story goes, Lennon is notified of his deportation while trying to extend his visa in the country. At that time, the argument of the relevant authorities was based on the fact that the artist had been wrongly admitted to the country, since he had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for possession of marijuana in London in 1968, and the immigration law of the time prohibited admission. of someone convicted of any drug-related offense.
Lennon wanted to at least delay his deportation so that Yoko could fight for custody of a nine-year-old daughter he had from a previous marriage.
But the outlook for Lennon was not very encouraging, and the musician decided to hire the lawyer Leon Wildes, who was an eminence on the subject.
The lawyer quickly worked on several lines to fight and on the one hand he sought the support of the most representative musicians, and asked them to write letters to the government to stop Nixon’s initiative.
And simultaneously he was looking for information about an immigration program used in secret by the authorities to avoid certain deportations.
In this way, artists like Bob Dylan, Fred Astaire and many others flooded the government offices, without success, and in response to this act from immigration they upped the ante and denied Lennon permanent residence, causing him a deep depression.
His lawyer did not give up and raised the bet by suing the government under the Freedom of Information Act to make public the procedures by which certain immigrants obtained a kind of pardon from the deportation order.
And despite the fact that the immigration authorities argued that they could not treat any undocumented immigrant in a different way, ignoring said program, and ensuring their position against the musician.
However, Wildes’ team did not rest and found that there were several exceptions to this rule, in total there were 1,843 cases, and exposed a program that remained hidden for many years called: procedural discretion.
This administrative policy basically referred to the difficulty of deporting all undocumented immigrants; therefore, human and economic resources should be focused primarily on immigrants who represent a danger to the country.
Finally, and after four years of intense litigation, Wildes together with Lennon won the battle and the musician obtained his permanent residence (Green Card) in 1976.
Wildes recounted this case in great detail in his book: John Lennon Vs. the USA While Lennon decided to celebrate the victory with a symbolic photo in front of the emblematic Statue of Liberty and its characteristic sign of peace.