PASS THE MIC
Editorial, Comments, and Opinions
Ono in their
professor of law
at the Benjamin
School of Law,
special pride in
relevance of his
efforts in the
ohn Lennon never anticipated that more
than a million young people would ever
benefit from his successful lawsuit on deferred
action won more than four decades ago.
The lawsuit stemmed from his protest against
the Vietnam War. He advocated for the U.S.
government to pull out of the war, in contrast to
President Richard Nixon, who was sending 18
to 21-year-olds there. Officials were concerned
about the perceived influence Lennon had over
these young and impressionable folks, who
had been granted the right the vote. And, so,
Senator Strom Thurmond suggested to Nixon
that removing Lennon would be "a strategic
counter-measure."1 Consequently, Lennon and
his wife, Yoko Ono, were placed in deportation
proceedings in 1972.
As part of Lennon's defense in his deportation
case, he claimed that there was a special
program called "deferred action," which legacy
Immigration and Naturalization Service often
used as a discretionary tool to avoid removal
of deportable foreign nationals who had special
humanitarian reasons for remaining. The
agency had denied such a program existed. He
filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act
and succeeded in securing the files of 1,843
such approved cases. Eventually, Lennon's
case was declared to be a "deferred action"
case, and after five years of contested litigation,
he ultimately was granted lawful permanent
John Lennon stands with Leon
Wildes at the courthouse. For
more on Deferred Action, see
AILA's issue page.
residence status. Lennon was most eager to
publicize the existence of this humanitarian
remedy and make it available to others. It was
my privilege to have assisted him in doing so.
At a time when Congress seems unable to deal
fairly with our out-of-date, broken immigration
laws, it is rewarding to consider how one
man's efforts in this difficult area have paid off.
1 J. Wiener, "The U.S. v. John Lennon," CBS News (Sept. 15,
M ARCH/ A PRIL 2013
John Lennon: Influencing Young
People Now As Much As Yesterday