New York’s Congressional delegation is pressuring Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to deport 94-year-old Queens resident Jakiw Palij, a former guard at an SS Nazi training camp in Poland.
Palij served at the notorious slave labor camp in the southwestern Polish village of Trawniki, in which 12,000 Jews were imprisoned, until at least 1943, before moving to the United States.
At the Trawniki camp, the Jewish inmates were forced to sort through clothes, until they were all slaughtered in 1943.
Each of the 29 Democrat and Republican members of Congress in New York State has signed a letter urging Tillerson to expedite the deportation of the former Nazi.
Palij was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 2003 by a federal judge at the request of the Department of Justice.
The judge ruled he had falsified his immigration application in 1949, on which he claimed he had worked as a farmer during the war.
He was sentenced to deportation either to Germany, Poland or Ukraine – but all of the countries have refused to accept him.
However, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charles Faulkner wrote in a response to an earlier letter from the New York Congressional delegation in August that Palij can become a Ukraine citizen if he applies in person at that country’s embassy or consulate. He added, though, that it was “not clear whether they would be in a position to prosecute him for his wartime activities.”
Palij pleaded in court that he was forced to serve as a guard at the slave labor camp during World War II.
The entire New York Congressional delegation wrote this month to the Secretary, “Removing Mr. Palij from American soil will send a message not only to the citizens of New York, but to the entire world. It has been 13 years since Mr. Palij lost his right to remain here, and it has taken far too long for these court orders to be carried out.”
The Secretary was asked to personally “step in to settle this long-standing injustice.”
A similar letter was sent to Tillerson in August by 21 of the members of the New York Congressional delegation.