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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: YOKO ONO - ARTIST

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When I was in junior high school, I started to pay a lot more attention to the news of the world. The energy crisis, the US hostage standoff in Iran, the shooting of President Reagan, the Falklands War, they were all major news. But the one event that had the most emotional impact was surely the murder of John Lennon in New York in 1980. Though I am too young to remember the Beatles before they broke up, but that didn't stop me and many of my friends from being avid fans. I owned all the albums and knew all the songs.  In fact, shortly before Lennon died, I had just gone out and bought Double Fantasy, his new album that was out for just three weeks before he died. The album, by the way, had the great songs "Woman", "Beautiful Boy" and "Just Like Starting Over."



There's a story relating to John Lennon that I knew little about until recently. I knew Lennon was hounded by the FBI for his anti-war activities and that he was almost deported. I've been lucky enough to become friends over the last few years with Lennon's immigration lawyer Leon Wildes. Leon serves on the board of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and we go to a dinner every year together at the annual meeting of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (Leon, by the way, is a former president of AILA).



This evening I finally was able to view the excellent documentary The U.S. Versus John Lennon which tells the story of the deportation case. Much of the story focuses on Yoko as well as John and their long battle with an INS and a White House intent on getting the couple out of the country and out of their hair. Much of the story focuses on Leon's brilliant defense of the couple and he is interviewed at length in the film.



The story ends when Lennon is killed by Mark David Chapman near the entrance to the Dakota Hotel on the upper West Side in Manhattan, Yoko and John's residence. Yoko has spent nearly three decades since the murder keeping her husband's legacy alive including founding a museum honoring John and establishing the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park.

Oko's life has been extremely interesting. She's certainly the most controversial figure in the Beatles story with many blaming her for the break up of the band. But it's obvious that Lennon and Ono were very much in love until John's premature demise.

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  1. JoeF's Avatar
    I've been a Beatles fan since childhood, and a lot of hard-core Beatles fans had huge problems with Ono.
    Over the years, I have come to appreciate modern art, and I think her art is really good.
    And no, she didn't break up the Beatles. The Beatles had already broken up, except for making it formal, before she met Lennon.

    One thing that always strikes me as interesting is that with today's zero-tolerance policy on drugs, Lennon would have had a hard time getting a GC today. In my opinion, the "war on drugs" stuff is as misguided as the Prohibition was.
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