FLASHBACK: John Lennon Wins His Battle To Stay In America
It was 38 years ago Sunday (July 27th, 1976), that John Lennon was issued his Green Card, winning his four year battle with the U.S. Government to stay in America. Lennon's fight for residency began almost immediately upon landing in the States in the fall of 1971 with wife Yoko Ono. Due to the couple's outspokenness about the Nixon administration's escalation of the Vietnam war, Lennon and Ono were targeted by the FBI, which had them followed and bugged their phone, in an effort to track their political activities.
By March 1972, Lennon and Ono had befriended counter-culture icons and Chicago Seven defendants Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, who soon told Rolling Stone that Lennon would take part in a demonstration outside that summer's Republican National Convention in San Diego. Although Lennon went on record stating that he had no intention of doing so, it was then that the U.S. Government began stepping up their deportation hearings against him, using his 1968 conviction for marijuana possession as the basis for his deportation.
For the next four years, Lennon was in and out of court fighting to remain in the U.S., and was unable to leave the country for fear of not being readmitted.
During his last TV interview in April 1975, Lennon told Tomorrow Show host Tom Snyder that his life in New York City was a world away from the existence he led during the height of the Beatles' fame: "Y'see having gone through the 'Beatlemania' thing; nowadays it's nothing like that. I mean, I can walk down the street and somebody will say, 'Oh, hi John!' and they don't hassle me. I might sign one autograph, two autographs, y'know? And I don't get hassled. I went through that period when I actually couldn't go anywhere. And so now it's like, I can go and eat, we can go and eat, we go to the movies, we go wherever we want."
Between 1976 and his death in 1980, Lennon traveled the world extensively, visiting Egypt, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Bermuda, and other islands and countries.
One country he never made it back to was his native England, which he was hoping to return to in the spring of 1981 during a planned world tour. Lennon would have been eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship that year as well.
Lennon's immigration problems were chronicled in the 2006 documentary, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, and 2010's LENNONYC.
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