- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A federal immigration judge’s order to deport a former concentration camp guard who participated in the Nazi-sponsored persecution of civilians during World War II has been affirmed by the government’s Board of Immigration Appeals.

The 2003 ruling by immigration Judge Charles M. Honeyman to deport Theodor Szehinskyj, 80, of West Chester, Pa., came after a 2000 decision by the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to revoke Szehinskyj’s U.S. citizenship based on his service in the SS Death’s Head, or Totenkopf, Battalion guard units at concentration camps in Germany and Nazi-occupied Poland.

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray, who heads the department’s criminal division. “Szehinskyj entered this country illegally and must be deported as expeditiously as possible.”

Judge Honeyman ordered Szehinskyj deported from the United States to Ukraine 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.

The judge ruled 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 said 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.

The Board of Immigration Appeals, which ruled on the case this week, is the highest administrative body for interpreting immigration law. Its 11 members have nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals from decisions rendered by immigration judges and by the Homeland Security Department in a wide variety of immigration proceedings.

Szehinskyj immigrated to the United States in 1950, using a visa obtained in Germany, and 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 in October 1999 and the deportation process began 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 stripped 76 Nazi persecutors of U.S. citizenship and 60 have been deported. Under its “watch list” border-control program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Homeland Security Department, more than 170 suspected Nazi persecutors have been prevented from entering the United States.

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