Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials — working for an agency many Democrats want to abolish and acting at the direction of a president liberal critics often call “Hitler” — deported an actual Nazi on Tuesday.
Authorities said Jakiw Palij, a 95-year-old Queens, New York, resident, worked as a Nazi labor camp guard in German-occupied Poland during World War II. The Department of Justice (DOJ) won a court order to kick Palij out of the country in 2004, but that order went unenforced through the presidencies of Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama.
That changed Tuesday under President Donald Trump.
“The United States will never be a safe haven for those who have participated in atrocities, war crimes, and human rights abuses,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Jakiw Palij lied about his Nazi past to immigrate to this country and then fraudulently become an American citizen. He had no right to citizenship or to even be in this country.”
Palij becomes the 68th Nazi deported from the United States since the end of World War II in 1945. U.S. authorities have deported hundreds of other foreigners who lied about their human rights abuses.
Trump has stepped up efforts — criticized by some — to identify people who committed fraud in order to obtain U.S. citizenship.
U.S. officials said Palij was born in Poland in an area that now belongs to Ukraine. He trained at an SS camp in Trawniki, in Nazi-occupied Poland, in the spring of 1943. Documents filed in court by DOJ indicate the men at Trawniki participated in implementing the Third Reich’s plan to murder Jews in Poland, code-named “Operation Reinhard.”
In one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust, Nazis shot roughly 6,000 Jewish men, women and children to death. As a guard, Palij prevented escapes and thus helped ensure the deaths of those imprisoned at Trawniki.
Palij came to the United States in 1949, concealing his wartime activities by telling immigration officials that he worked on his father’s farm until 1944 in his hometown and then at a German factory. He became a citizen in 1957. Palij finally confessed his role at Trawniki in 2001.
DOJ officials moved in May 2002 to strip Palij of his U.S. citizenship. A federal judge in New York granted the request the following year, and the government placed him in removal proceedings. An immigration judge in August 2004 ordered him to be deported to Ukraine, Poland, Germany — or any other country that would take him.
An immigration appeals board denied his appeal in December 2005. and the Department of State negotiated with Germany for his deportation.
The federal government since 1979 has won cases against 108 people accused of participating in Nazi crimes of persecution. Authorities have also blocked 180 others from entering the country.