FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
DEPORTATION ORDER UPHELD IN CASE OF
FORMER NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMP GUARD
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Christopher A. Wray, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division, announced today that the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) has affirmed an immigration judge’s order directing the deportation of former SS concentration camp guard Theodor Szehinskyj of West Chester, Pennsylvania, because he participated in Nazi-sponsored persecution of civilians during World War II.
The 2003 immigration judge’s order followed a decision by the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia in 2000 to revoke Szehinskyj’s U.S. citizenship based on his service in SS Death’s Head (Totenkopf) Battalion guard units at two concentration camps in Germany and one in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Assistant Attorney General Wray stated, “The Nazi concentration camps, which served the Third Reich’s goals of exterminating the inmates, would not have been possible without the help of SS guards like Theodor Szehinskyj. Szehinskyj entered this country illegally and must be deported as expeditiously as possible.”
In the latest ruling, the BIA upheld, without opinion, an April 2003 decision of immigration judge Charles M. Honeyman ordering Szehinskyj, 80, deported from the United States to Ukraine (or, alternatively, to Poland or Germany) because of his actions while serving as an armed SS guard of civilian prisoners at the Gross Rosen, Sachsenhausen, and Warsaw concentration camps from January 1943 until February 1945. Judge Honeyman, quoting the district court, wrote that “the horror of the
camps cannot be overstated: they were places of utter, devastating persecution,” with most of the inmates having been confined there “because of their ethnicity or religion, [as] persons considered to be untermenschen, or ‘sub-humans.’” He ruled that since SS Death’s Head Battalion guards “played an essential role in maintaining the terror of the Nazi concentration camps,” and since the primary duty of the guards was to prevent prisoner escapes from the concentration camps -- “usually by shooting” them -- Szehinskyj assisted in persecution through his guard service.
Szehinskyj immigrated to the U.S. in 1950, using a visa obtained in Germany, and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1958. He is a native of Malnow, a town in pre-war Poland that is now in Ukraine. Citizenship revocation proceedings were initiated against Szehinskyj in October 1999 and removal (deportation) proceedings were commenced in September 2002.
The Szehinskyj case was brought by the Criminal Division’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), as part of its ongoing efforts to identify those who participated in Nazi persecution residing in this country. Since 1979, OSI has won cases against 95 persons. Seventy-six Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 60 such individuals have been deported from the United States as a result of OSI operations. Moreover, under OSI's “Watch List” border control program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, more than 170 suspected Nazi persecutors have been prevented from entering the United States.