The Deportation Case of John Lennon and Evolution of Immigration Prosecutorial Discretion
This chapter provides details on a famous case involving prosecutorial discretion-—the deportation case of John Lennon and the efforts undertaken by his attorney, Leon Wildes, to encourage the immigration agency to publish its policies about prosecutorial discretion. The Lennon case is significant because it triggered the publication of the immigration agency’s first guidance on “deferred action” (then called “nonpriority status”) which at the time was published as an “Operations Instruction.” Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion that has been used as a remedy for individuals facing unusual circumstances for many years. This chapter summarizes some of the cases heard by the federal courts about whether the then new “deferred action” guidance functions as an administrative convenience to the government or as a benefit to the individual. This chapter also summarizes the early guidance on prosecutorial discretion issued by the immigration agency.
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