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38 Years Ago: John Lennon’s Deportation Order Reversed

George Stroud/Hulton Archive,Getty Images

On Oct. 7, 1975,  New York State Supreme Court judge Irving Kaufman reversed a deportation order for John Lennon, allowing him to legally remain in the United States. Lennon was in the spotlight throughout the first few years of the decade, not only due to his music and his status as a former Beatle, but equally for his very outspoken stance on the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration.

Though long involved in the peace movement, even penning its unofficial anthem with ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ it wasn’t until moving to New York City with wife Yoko Ono in the early ’70s that Lennon began to associate with radicals like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Bobby Seale. In the 2006 documentary ‘The U.S. vs. John Lennon,’ reporter and Lennon friend Geraldo Rivera said, “There was a fear that John could imperil the political existence of Richard Nixon.”

Despite the fact that the FBI investigation turned up nothing in the way of illegal activities on Lennon, wheels were already in motion for his, and Ono’s, deportation based on drug-related charges from 1968 in England. Lennon’s attorney Leon Wildes said John “understood that what was being done to him was wrong. It was an abuse of the law, and he was willing to stand up and shine the big light on it.” Judge Kaufman said, “The courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds.” He added, “Lennon’s four-year battle to remain in our country is testimony to his faith in this American dream.”

John Lennon would finally get his green card in July of the following year. “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives,” Lennon said. Some things never change.

Next: See Which John Lennon Track Makes Our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

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