There is a question on the N-400, Application for Naturalization, that asks:
Between March 23, 1933, and May 8, 1945, did you work for or associate in any way (either directly or indirectly) with:
a. The Nazi government of Germany?
b. Any government in any area (1) occupied by, (2) allied with,or (3) established with the help of the Nazi government of Germany?
c. Any German, Nazi, or S.S. military unit, paramilitary unit, self-defense unit, vigilante unit, citizen unit, police unit, government agency, or office, extermination camp, concentration camp, prisoner of war camp, prison, labor camp, or transit camp?
Every time I assist in citizenship preparation, my clients ask me why that question is still on the form. I answer that it will not be taken off until every person who it could possibly apply to is dead.
Once in a while, we still hear about people involved in Nazi persecution and our government’s efforts to de-naturalize and deport such people. One of these people is John Demjanjuk. The U.S. government has spent many years trying to deport Mr. Demjanjuk. Mr. Demjanjuk was originally from Ukraine and had served as a concentration camp guard under Nazi rule. He had failed to disclose his past when he entered the United States in 1952. (For an excellent summary of the immigration proceedings, have a look at the Wikipedia site on John Demjanjuk).
On December 28, 2005, an Immigration Judge ordered Mr.Demanjuk deported. He appealed that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. He lost. Unfortunately no country would take him back so the U.S. Government could not deport him. That is, until now. Recently the German government has requested that Mr. Demjanuk be extradited to Germany to stand trial on 29,000 charges of accessory to murder.
Mr. Demanjuk has filed a Motion to Reopen with the Board of Immigration Appeals and recently on April 14, 2009, a Motion for a Stay of the removal order with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. He argues that he is in ill health and that traveling to Germany and standing trial would be a violation of the International Convention Against Torture.
At first I was a little sympathetic to Mr. Demanjuk. He is 89 years old and appears to be in ill health. I do not know why the German government wants to put Mr. Demanjuk on trial now. What will they do if they are successful? Will they carry out an execution? However, the more I thought about it, the more I changed my mind. Mr. Demanjuk is a lucky man, although he might not think so. He has managed to avoid deportation for many years. Even when ordered deported, our government could not carry out the order. Now Germany wants him. He should have been deported several years ago. Many people who have been living in the United States illegally are deported, and they were not concentration camp guards. They were hard working people who only committed the crime of coming to the United States illegally. Mr. Demanjuk, who lied when he came to the United States and committed multiple acts of human rights violations, does not deserve any better by being allowed to stay.
I do not see that travel and a trial in Germany constitute violations against the International Convention Against Torture. Germany will provide him with medical care while he is there. It is probably better than ours. It will be unpleasant to go there and deal with this, but not torture.
Rabbi Hier, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, summed up the reasons for the extradition the best. “His [Mr. Demanjuk's] defenders say that at 89, he is too old to be deported. His 29,000 victims would have only wished that they would have been so fortunate to reach the age of 89.” (It is worth reading his entire statement on the John Demanjuk deportation).
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