deferred action for undocumented youth: roots in the lennon case

John Lennon’s Influence on United States Immigration Law Continues: Deferred Action for Undocumented Youth…Imagine!

On Friday, June 15, 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced a new policy granting deferred action to some undocumented youth in the United States. Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children and who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be considered for relief from deportation or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who qualify will receive “deferred action” for a period of two years, subject to removal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

Individuals who meet the following criteria are now eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis. These include persons who:

1.) Arrived in the United States under the age of sixteen;

2.) Are under the age of thirty;

3.) Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years
preceding June 15, 2012 and are present in the United States on June 15, 2012;

4.) Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a
general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States, and

5.) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The roots of this momentous grant of relief trace back to Mr. Leon Wildes’ unprecedented breakthrough in the law during his representation of John Lennon. In the Lennon case, Mr. Wildes, the founding partner of the New York immigration law firm Wildes & Weinberg P.C., pioneered the disclosure of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) practice of de-prioritizing the deportation of certain individuals. There was no public knowledge of this practice until 1974, when the U.S. ordered John Lennon deported and he challenged his removal.

Leon Wildes obtained information about the “Non-Priority Program” through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. After denying the existence of such a program for years, the government was finally ordered to reveal the existence of the program that allowed district directors of INS to permit some deportable aliens to remain in the United States despite their deportability. The program, which existed in the “unpublished blue pages” of the government’s Operations Instructions, was renamed “deferred action” in 1975 under new publicly released Operations Instructions.

In handling John Lennon’s immigration case, Wildes demanded the files of the cases selected for “deferred action” cases and the court ordered INS to release 1843 cases of deportable aliens not being removed. Wildes’ claim that Lennon should be granted deferred action was approved. Several weeks after, he was granted lawful permanent residence by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

In a series of publications, Wildes analyzed the factors require for the grant of special treatment by the INS. Wildes was the first to bring to light the factors utilized by the INS to determine whether an individual is of low priority for deportation. As a result of his monumental work, it is now possible for the dreams of thousands of youth to come true. Leon Wildes thus uncovered the mechanism that forms the basis of the recently enacted “deferred action” policy implemented by the Obama Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

For Further Information On How We Can Help Your Firm Meet Its Employment Eligibility Verification Obligations, Please Contact Amy Wildes At

In The News


I received my Green Card from Michael Wildes and his firm some days ago. The petition approval and Green Card release represent a real achievement for people like me in the US. Michael Wildes and his team are excellent, and...

Luca Zammataro Date : November 22, 2022

Dear Michael Wildes, my husband and I would like to thank you and your team,  the work was not easy, especially in the statement, there were a lot of flaws, but we managed to correct everything in a short time,...

Jacques Carline Date : August 3, 2022

Our client David came to us after spending more than three years stuck in the immigration court morass with another attorney. His individual hearing wasn’t scheduled to occur for over a year, and he thought it might get pushed off...

David E. Date : June 8, 2022

Josh Wildes and Yoni Jonas are amazing! We sought Wildes & Weinberg help because our application for naturalization was taking a long time and seemed to be stuck in the system indefinitely. Within two weeks of submitting our paperwork to...

Daniela Bustamante Date : June 1, 2022

Michael Wildes and the rest of the team at Wildes & Weinberg were tremendously helpful in navigating us through the complexities of the immigration process. We are really happy with their service and would 100% recommend them to anyone looking...

Alan Herskowich and Nicole Woroszylski Date : May 26, 2022

Michael and his team are very professional and they always deliver. If you're looking to hire the best possible immigration law firm, you don't have to look any further, Wildes & Weinberg is the one.

Nick Holmstren Date : January 7, 2022

Walter Gottschalk and Michael Wildes at Wildes & Weinberg P.C Law Offices have been fantastic partners in our immigration journey. They were professional and helpful. I would recommend them without hesitation.

Bruno Caron and Melanie St. Amour Date : December 2, 2021

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