The Rocker and the General

February 24, 2011

Today I’d like to share with you a great blog entry posted to the Center for Immigration Studies website, written by David North. It deals with the protracted legal battle between the counsel to legendary rock musician John Lennon and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Although most accounts of the Lennon deportation question usually focus on the alleged misuse of administrative resources by the Nixon administration-a theme that would seem to fit into a larger narrative arc focusing on abuse of power by President Nixon and some of his political factotums-or the broader issue of domestic opposition to the Vietnam War, the actual legal battle had much more to do with the attorneys for Lennon exploiting a little-used aspect of American immigration law in order to keep their client in the United States indefinitely. 

North explains the relevance of this law, then known as a non-priority classification but now called Deferred Departure, to the current discussion about what to do with aliens who are awaiting deportation. Particularly, those whom pro-amnesty activists seek to keep in this country-and eventually grant full legal status-through administrative mechanisms such as that used to protect Mr. Lennon in his own successful battle with the INS.

This story is especially pertinent in light of this administration’s mixed messages regarding the feasibility of an amnesty that bypasses normal legislative channels. That’s why the North posting is not only worth reading as an historical refresher course on immigration law, but as a reminder that the tools uncovered years ago can be used in the future in an attempt to thwart the intended purpose of our immigration system.

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