On this day in 1975, a judge rejects a deportation order for John Lennon. The former Beatle and one of the greatest singer/songwriter’s of all time had been threatened with expulsion from his adopted homeland. Lennon had made his home in New York in the late 1960s and here he had lived with his wife the Japanese artists Yoko Ono and his son Sean.
Lennon had never been shy of controversy and he believed that an artist should do all they could to promote peace and love. He had made his views on the Vietnam war known and in interviews and in his songs he made clear that he thought that American should end the war in South East Asia. He became even more outspoken on American involvement in Vietnam in 1970.
On April 30th the American army and their allies the South Vietnamese invaded Cambodia. Much of this country at this time was in the hands of Communists guerrillas allied to the North Vietnamese government. The Americans wanted to invade Cambodia in order to cut off supplies from North Vietnam to the Viet Cong in the South. However, this move was very controversial and it seemed to give the lie to Nixon’s policy of de-escalation in South East Asia.
The invasion of Cambodia sparked massive student protests across Universities and colleges throughout America. At Kent State College, a demonstration turned ugly and the National Guard fired on the demonstrators and killed four young students. Lennon became even more vocal in his opposition at this time. Also in this period, Lennon voiced his support to the demonstrators. He also expressed sympathy for radicals such as the Black Panther movement.
Lennon was feared by the establishment because he was so popular with young people and the Nixon administration sought to deport him from the country. The government was eager to get rid of Lennon as they believed that he could even influence the outcome of the Presidential election in 1972. For the first time in 1972 young people between the ages of 18 and 20 could vote and their intentions could be swayed by Lennon’s views.
The FBI investigated Lennon in a bid to find evidence that he was engaged with radicals. This could have allowed the Nixon administration to secure the deportation of Lennon on the grounds that he was a danger to the United States. However, Lennon had done nothing wrong. Then the government changed tact and they tried to deport both him and his wife on the basis that they had criminal convictions. In 1967 they had both been convicted of possession of marijuana. Lennon hired one of the best immigration lawyers in New York to defend himself and his wife, as the couple both loved their new home in New York.
The case dragged on for four years. Lennon argued that the proceedings against him were political and that he should, therefore be allowed to stay.
On this day in history, a Judge allowed Lennon and his wife to stay in the US. The court accepted Lennon’s argument that the case had been political and that he was being persecuted for his beliefs.
In 1976 John Lennon received his Green Card.