Famous People Who Fought Immigration Battles, From John Lennon to Charlie Chaplin

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The DREAMers aren't the only ones who have feared being deported from the United States. Check out some famous people who have had their battles with American immigration authorities.

PHOTO: John Lennon and Yoko Ono
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John Lennon and Yoko Ono

In an interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl, Yoko Ono told how she and her husband, the former Beatle John Lennon, were served with deportation papers early one morning in March 1972. After the couple refused to open their door, officers slipped the notice under the door to them. Ono's reaction, she said, was, "What are we going to do? You know, it was really frightening."

The couple was served the deportation order because U.S. officials said Lennon had been allowed into the country improperly. He had been charged with possession of marijuana in London in 1968, and U.S. law said no one with a criminal record was allowed to come live in the country.

A number of famous names put pen to paper, writing letters to President Nixon to try to convince him to allow Lennon and his artist wife to stay in New York.

Nixon, who didn't particularly like the outspoken anti-war activist couple -- they had campaigned against his reelection -- was not swayed. In 1973, Lennon was given 60 days to leave the U.S. Ono was granted permanent residence.

Watergate, however, intervened. Nixon's successor, Gerald Ford, wasn't interested in continuing a political battle with Lennon. In October 1975, a three-judge panel ruled that the possession charge was insufficient to keep Lennon out of the country. Lennon was awarded a green card in 1976.

PHOTO: Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) at the launch of the Musical "Moonshadow" on April 24th 2012, in Melbourne Australia.
Martin Philbey/Redferns/Getty Images
Cat Stevens

The British singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known by his stage name, Cat Stevens, was barred from entering the United States in 2004. The singer was placed on the U.S. government's "no fly" list and taken off a flight from London to Washington because of suspicions that he was associated with potential terrorists.

His flight, on a United Airlines Boeing 747, was diverted to Bangor, Maine, where he was detained by FBI agents.

Islam said, "Everybody knows who I am. I am no secret figure. Everybody knows my campaigning for charity, for peace. There's got to be a whole lot of explanation."

PHOTO: Charlie Chaplin
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Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin, perhaps the most beloved of comic actors from the silent film era, ran afoul of American politicians -- and immigration authorities -- after World War II, when he satirized anti-communist fears in the United States during the Cold War.

A 1949 Associated Press story says that in May of 1949, Sen. Harry Cain (R-Wash.) demanded that Chaplin, a native of England, be deported, and accused him of coming "perilously close to treason" against the United States.

Cain cited a telegram sent by Chaplin to the French artist Pablo Picasso concerning the deportation of German composer Hanns Eisler. The message read, "Can you head committee of French artists to protest the American Embassy in Paris the outrageous deportation proceedings against Hanns Eisler here and simultaneously send me a copy of protest for use here. Greetings!"

In 1952, Chaplin returned to England for the premiere of his film, "Limelight," and learned that his re-entry permit request was denied. Chaplin died on Christmas 1977, never having returned to the United States.

PHOTO: Former Washington Post journalist turned immigration reform activist, Jose Antonio Vargas, center, an illegal immigrant himself, speaks at an informational news conference supporting President Obama's announcement to stop deportations of younger il
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas, a reporter whose coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre who a Pulitzer Prize, admitted to ABC's Dan Harris that he is an illegal immigrant. A native of the Philippines, Vargas came to the U.S. alone at age 12 to live with his grandparents. He admits to having broken laws to conceal his undocumented identity. He also said he obtained various documents under false pretenses, including a falsified Social Security card and an Oregon driver's license.

Vargas defended himself: "You have to do what you have to do... I wanted to work. I wanted to prove that I was worthy of being here … and I was gonna do whatever it took to prove that."

Vargas decided to make his undocumented status public last December when Congress did not pass the DREAM Act.

Vargas said he has fears about being deported, but calls America his home."You can call me whatever you want to call me, but I am an American," Vargas said. "No one can take that away from me. No, no one can."

PHOTO: Lucky Luciano
DA Case Files/New York City Municipal Archives/AP Photo
"Lucky Luciano"

Salvatore "Lucky Luciano," often considered the father of organized crime in America, was born in Sicily in 1897 and came to the U.S. as a child in 1906.

Luciano's criminal career began early -- he started shoplifting at the age of 10. By the late 1920s, Luciano was chief aide to Giuseppe Masseria, the boss of the largest crime family in the country.

In 1931 Luciano killed both Masseria and his successor, Salvatore Maranzano, became the family's boss, and continued to rule over the organization while in prison for running prostitution operations in New York.

In 1946, New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey -- who originally nailed Luciano on the prostitution charges -- ordered Luciano's sentence commuted. Luciano settled in Rome temporarily before moving to Cuba, better to continue to run his American mob. Cuba was eventually forced to deport him, and Luciano spent the rest of his life running the crime syndicate from Italy. He died in Naples in 1962.

PHOTO: Hanns Eisler
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Hanns Eisler

Composer Hanns Eisler came to the U.S. in 1933, when he fled Nazi Germany. Eisler had studied with a number of respected composers, but broke with his early mentor, Arnold Schoenberg, in 1926. Eisler's compositions turned radical: He wrote music for many of Bertholt Brecht's plays up until his flight from Germany.

Eisler found success composing music for films in the States. However, his past came back to haunt him during the Red Scare of the late 1940s. After testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Eisler was deported in 1948. He settled in East Berlin and continued to compose, but eventually was persecuted by the German government for what they considered his blasphemous retelling of "Faust."

PHOTO: Marcus Garvey Jr.
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Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey was an activist originally from Jamaica. By the time he reached his mid-teens, Garvey had moved to Kingston and started to participate in union activities. He spent time working as a journalist in Central America before moving to London for a time to continue his education. While studying at the University of London, Garvey wrote for The African Times and Orient Review, which was strongly supportive of pan-African nationalism. This inspired him to return to Jamaica, where he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1912.

Garvey's activities brought him into contact with Booker T. Washington, and Garvey traveled to New York in 1916 to learn from Washington's efforts. Within three years, Garvey had established a UNIA chapter in New York and founded the Black Star Line and Negroes Factories Association. All three organizations continued to grow.

In 1922, accusations of mail fraud and accounting errors plagued the Black Star Line, and Garvey was sentenced to five years in prison on June 23, 1923. He was deported upon his release in 1927. He continued his work from Jamaica and, later, London, before he died in 1940.

PHOTO: Yvonne De Carlo
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Yvonne De Carlo

Canadian actress Yvonne De Carlo moved to Hollywood with her mother at the age of 18 in 1940. De Carlo danced in chorus lines to make ends meet until she was caught in 1940 and deported back to Canada. The chorus line company she had been dancing with, however, offered a letter of sponsorship, which allowed De Carlo to return to the U.S. and continue her quest for fame in Hollywood.

De Carlo landed her first role in a feature film in 1941. She took on a number of small roles until finally getting her big break in 1945's "Salome Where She Danced." She continued to hold down leading roles in American films for the next 30 years. She also became a TV star for her role on "The Munsters."

De Carlo died in 2007 at the age of 84.

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