The Trump administration has deported a 95-year-old former Nazi labor camp guard, concluding a 14-year process following a 2004 deportation order.
CNN reports that Jakiw Palij, a former guard in then German-occupied Poland’s Trawniki Labor Camp who had been living in Queens, New York, was deported to Germany on Monday. Palij immigrated to the U.S. in 1949 and became a naturalized citizen in 1957. He allegedly lied to authorities about his involvement in World War II, telling them he worked at a farm and in a factory, but when confronted by immigration authorities decades later he confessed and said “everybody lied” on visa applications.
The Trump administration quickly used it as an opportunity to claim some kind of moral high ground for an agency that has targeted immigrants at courthouses and en route to hospitals, overseen a staggering increase in arrests while often using deceptive tactics, and exposed more than 1,000 immigrants to abuse while detained:
The Justice Department offered a similar statement:
On Nov. 3, 1943, some 6,000 Jewish men, women and children incarcerated at Trawniki were shot to death in one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust. By helping to prevent the escape of these prisoners during his service at Trawniki, Palij played an indispensable role in ensuring that they later met their tragic fate at the hands of the Nazis.
In 2017, Bernard Marks, a Holocaust survivor, had a different assessment of the legacy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “I am a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau,” Marks said while confronting the agency’s acting director at a public forum. “History is not on your side.”