Aug. 21, 2018 By Tara Law
A 95-year-old Jackson Heights resident who was a former Nazi SS labor camp guard was deported to Germany early this morning, the White House announced.
Jakiw Palij, who was born in an area of Poland that is now Ukraine, moved to the United States in 1949 and became a United States citizen in 1957. He lied to immigration officials during the naturalization process, claiming that he had spent World War II working in a factory on a farm, authorities say.
He confessed to the Department of Justice in 2001 that he had been trained in 1943 at the Nazi SS training camp in German-occupied Trawniki, Poland, and then served as an armed guard at the nearby Trawniki Labor Camp. On Nov. 3, 1943, about 6,000 Jews were killed at the camp.
Palij’s citizenship was revoked in Aug. 2003 on the basis of his wartime activities and immigration fraud, and his deportation was ordered in 2004.
However, previous administrations struggled to deport Palij because Germany, Ukraine and Poland refused to take him in.
The White House said that President Donald Trump’s administration had prioritized deporting Palij.
“Palij had lied about being a Nazi and remained in the United States for decades,” the administration said in a statement. “Palij’s removal sends a strong message: The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil.”
Palij was the only remaining active case from the Nazi era that was still being pursued by the Justice Department’s Office of Human Rights and Special Prosecutions. In its history of investigating World War II war crimes, the department has deported a total of 68 Nazis.
Over the years, New York politicians including U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer have written letters to the White House calling for Palij’s deportation.