The Beatles: John Lennon narrowly dodged deportation order over drug conviction

The Beatles arrive at JFK airport in 1964

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After The Beatles split up in 1970 John Lennon and his second wife, Yoko Ono, spent a lot of time in the public eye fighting against the Vietnamese War. The war, which raged on from 1955 to 1975, was decried by Lennon and Ono as a breach of human rights. They didn’t agree with the then US president, Richard Nixon, over why they kept sending troops to the country. Eventually, these comments made Lennon a target for the federal government.

On March 23, 1973, Lennon was issued an order to leave the country from the US immigration authorities.

The star was given 60 days to leave the country, or else.

The reason behind his deportation stemmed from a 1968 United Kingdom conviction for possession of marijuana.

The US’ immigration laws dictate that anyone convicted of a drug offence would not be allowed into the country. However, Lennon argued he should have been safe.

Speaking to his lawyer at the time, Leon Wildes, Lennon said: “Actually, I was completely innocent.

“Now mind you, I do not deny having used hash or a lot of other junk. But at the time, we were tipped off that there would be a police raid. The drug squad at Scotland Yard was out to get rock musicians, and I was on their list. They had already bagged Mick [Jagger] and George [Harrison].

“Yoko and I had taken over this apartment from some musicians. We weren’t on drugs at all at the time.

“Actually, we were on a macrobiotic diet, and drugs just didn’t go. To make sure, we cleaned the apartment top to bottom.”

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Despite this, Lennon claimed, at the time, that he was advised to plead guilty to the charge and accept a slap on the wrist.

A week after the deportation order came through, Lennon and Ono held a press conference where they announced the “birth of a new conceptual country: Nutopida”.

They said: “Nutopia has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people. Nutopia has no laws, other than cosmic. All people of Nutopia are ambassadors of the country.”

He added: “As two ambassadors of Nutopia, we ask for diplomatic immunity, and recognition in the United Nations for our country and its people.”

Although the wild stunt got the spotlight shined on him, Lennon’s newly announced “country” did not save him from deportation.

Following a collection of legal battles, he was eventually let of the hook years later on October 7, 1975.

The judge at the hearing, Kaufman, said: “The courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds. Lennon’s four-year battle to remain in our country is testimony to his faith in this American dream.”

The following year, in July 1976, Lennon finally got his green card, allowing him to stay in the country permanently.

Lennon made an announcement upon receiving his new green card.

He said: “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives.”


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