45 Years Ago: John Lennon Ordered to Leave U.S. by Immigration Authorities
On March 23, 1973, John Lennon was issued an order by U.S. immigration authorities to leave the United States. He was given 60 days to do so. The reason given for the deportation stemmed from his conviction in 1968 in England for possession of marijuana; however, as we now know, it had more to do with the Nixon administration's general fear of Lennon, his political views and his influence. Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, was, however, granted permanent residence at the time.
On April 1, Lennon and Ono held a press conference where they revealed the formation of a new country they called Nutopia. "We announce the birth of a conceptual country, Nutopia," said Lennon. "Nutopia has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people." And if that weren't enough, he added, "Nutopia has no laws, other than cosmic. All people of Nutopia are ambassadors of the country."
Using that leverage, Lennon continued, "As two ambassadors of Nutopia, we ask for diplomatic immunity, and recognition in the United Nations for our country and its people." The duo then each waved a white handkerchief, declaring "surrender and submission." It turns out that citizenship was obtained by simply declaring your awareness of Nutopia. Keep in mind this was 1973, and idealistic naivety had yet to be totally extinguished.
"It became clear to me that he was a guy of major principal," said Lennon's attorney, Leon Wildes. "He 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 try to shine the big light on it."
Within two years Lennon's order of deportation would be overturned, and in 1976 he received his green card, signifying his permanent residence in the U.S.