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Immigration law has some rock 'n' roll roots

John Lennon, April 1969 (George Stroud, Getty Images)
John Lennon, April 1969 (George Stroud, Getty Images)
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Updated: 9/04 7:11 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The argument over President Barack Obama's legal authority to defer deportations begins 42 years ago with a bit of hashish, a dogged lawyer and, yes, John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Lennon was in New York facing deportation from a Nixon administration eager to disrupt the ex-Beatle's planned concert tour and voter registration drive. The case hinged on Lennon's 1968 conviction for possession of "cannabis resin" in London.

Lennon ultimately succeeded. The case's legacy is an integral part of the legal foundation Obama relied on in 2012 to set up a program that has deferred the deportation of more than 580,000 immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

The extent of Obama's legal authority is now central to his deliberations over what else he can do, and when.


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