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March-April 2013

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PASS THE MIC Editorial, Comments, and Opinions New York Chapter member Leon Wildes, senior partner of Wildes & Weinberg P.C., represented Lennon and Ono in their deportation proceedings. A past president of AILA and adjunct professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Wildes takes special pride in the continued relevance of his efforts in the Lennon case. 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 At a time when Congress seems unable to deal fairly with our out-of-date, broken immigration laws, it is rewarding to consider how one man's efforts in this difficult area have paid off. Imagine! 1 J. Wiener, "The U.S. v. John Lennon," CBS News (Sept. 15, 2006). M ARCH/ A PRIL 2013 COURTESY PHOTO by Leon Wildes John Lennon: Influencing Young People Now As Much As Yesterday J 33

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