Amid a politically-charged debate over its existence, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has removed war criminal Jakiw Palij, marking the 68th deportation of a Nazi from the United States.
On Monday, ICE arrested Palij, 95, a former labor camp guard, enforcing a 2004 court order the same day President Donald Trump praised ICE and Customs and Border Protection officials at a White House ceremony.
Specifically for ICE, created in 2003, this marks at least the fourth Nazi arrest, deporting Nazi concentration camp guards John Demjanjuk and Josias Kumpf in 2009, and soldier John (Ivan) Kalymon in 2011.
“Despite a court ordering his deportation in 2004, past administrations were unsuccessful in removing Palij,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
“To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President Trump prioritized the removal of Palij. Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij’s deportation to Germany and advanced the United States’ collaborative efforts with a key European ally,” Sanders added.
For months, some Democrats have demanded the government “abolish ICE,” which is charged with enforcing immigration law in the interior of the country. Last month, three House Democrats introduced legislation to shut down ICE. Meanwhile, other politicians and commentators have compared ICE with Nazis or the Gestapo for arresting illegal immigrants.
ICE is often associated with arresting illegal immigrants that cross the border, but the agency also regularly investigates naturalization fraud, passport fraud, illegal immigrants in possession of firearms, as well as the smuggling of drugs, money, counterfeit merchandise, and weapons into the United States. This includes confronting sexual trafficking, and in some cases, fighting child pornography.
Three ICE offices—Enforcement and Removal Operations, the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center—were all involved in the removal of Palij, according to ICE.
The ICE Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, established in 2009, locates and prosecutes human rights abusers in the United States, which includes those known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
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