John Lennon, Nixon, DACA, and the Story of Deportation Reform
John Lennon wasn’t Nixon’s favorite rock star, especially given the political leanings of the very vocal Brit-in-America whose songs include lyrics like “imagine no possessions… no God above us only sky,” “all you need is love,” “war is over if you want it,” and “I’ve had enough of reading things by neurotic, psychotic pigheaded politicians… No short-haired, yellow-bellied son of Tricky Dicky’s Gonna Mother Hubbard soft soap me with just a pocket full of hope… I’m sick to death of seeing things from tight-lipped condescending mama’s little chauvinists; Just Give me Some Truth.”
Some speculate that John Lennon’s status as a notably liberal vocal anti-war rock icon caused Nixon to push for his deportation, which ironically resulted in a legal case that inspired President Obama’s 2012 immigration policy, DACA.
The high-profile deportation case worked, in that it put some fear into Lennon, but it also had some unintended consequences that one doubts Nixon wanted, one of which was that it called attention to an ambiguously enforced Deferred Action policy at the time.
Lennon eventually got a green card after battling the Nixon anti-Hippy squad, but the effects of the corresponding legal cases had far-reaching impact, eventually inspiring President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (also known as DACA).
Until the Lennon case, the Immigration and Naturalization Service had not acknowledged that it used its own discretion in deciding whom to deport. It was accepted that not every illegal immigrant could be deported just as it is today and so there was a question if the ambiguous “rules” were being used as a loophole to cherry-pick deportees.
When the Obama administration went to build a case for DACA years later, they relied heavily on Lennon’s case. Specifically, they relied on Lennon’s attempts to delay his deportation so his wife Yoko Ono could fight for custody of her nine-year-old daughter by a previous husband.
The 1972 case became an integral part of the legal foundation the Obama administration relied on during 2012 to set up a program that has deferred the deportation of more than 580,000 immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
If this isn’t an ironic consequence of Nixon’s politically motivated vendetta against the anti-War icon John Lennon, then I don’t know what is.
How John Lennon Changed Immigration Policy | msnbc
FACT: The FBI spent 5 years running a surveillance campaign that targeted Lennon, and some believe the CIA had been interested in Lennon as well. The early 70’s were a time when FBI leader Hoover’s anti-Communist agenda had long gotten out of hand and started focusing on rock stars, women’s groups, and progressive groups. Some drew the ire of the FBI for a good reason, but others didn’t. Typically, if people are critical of the agency, they focus on those later Hoover years and the FBI themselves. See Crime and Corruption Across America, 1972-1988 from fbi.gov. See The John Lennon FBI files.
FACT: For those too young to remember or who haven’t researched it, it is hard to express how important John Lennon was to America and the world. Before the Beatles, early rock n’ roll was defined by stars like Fats Domino, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jimmy Preston and others; after the Beatles came the hippy revolution. The Beatles were unique as early rock stars and John Lennon was one of the early political rock stars. Of course there were politicized singers before like Woody Guthrie and Paul Robeson. At no point was Lennon more radical than he was in the early 1970’s, and there was no one less pleased about this than the liberal-conservative Nixon. Nixon is complex, and we could say many nice things about him, including that many people are annoyed by idealistic rock stars and media criticism. However, this story is about the altruistic John Lennon and his effect on United States immigration reform. Learn more about Lennon by watching the movie The U.S. Vs. John Lennon featured in the trailer below.
U.S. Vs. John Lennon Trailer
DACA ‘dreamers’ fear nightmare immigration policy.
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
FACT: Immigrants protected by DACA are called “dreamers.” This is a reference to John Lennon’s song, Imagine, and a reference to the idea that people can dream of becoming citizens of our great country rather than being alienated and tossed out for being “illegal.” Should Mr. Trump follow through on his threats about DACA, he may deport some of the nearly 750,000 immigrants who qualified for DACA. See: What can Obama do to help protect DREAMers from Donald Trump?