QUEENS — New York congressmen called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to “personally intervene” to deport a convicted Nazi prison guard living in Queens.
U.S. Representatives including Joe Crowley (D), Jerold Nadler (D) and Dan Donavan (R) signed a letter demanding Jakiw Palij, 94, be booted from his Jackson Heights home so neighbors are not forced to live beside “a painful reminder for Americans who fought against the Nazis or lost loved ones in the Holocaust.”
Palij served as a guard at the Trawniki concentration camp in Poland in 1943 before immigrating to the United States “under false pretenses" in 1949, omitting his prior service to the Nazi cause,” stated the letter, dated Aug. 23 and signed by 21 members.
At least 6,000 Jewish prisoners were shot to death in the camp on Nov. 3, 1943, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Justice Department later investigated Palij and found he had worked as a guard and worked to strip his citizenship in 2003, which he had been granted in 1957, according to federal court records.
Palij had also been receiving Social Security but was no longer getting the benefits, an aide for Crowley’s office told DNAinfo New York.
State Department staff members have worked to deport him, but Poland, Ukraine and Germany have all refused to accept the elderly man, the aide said.
The members now want Tillerson to apply pressure to finally get the former Nazi deported.
“Without very high-level involvement by your office and others in the Administration, it appears likely that countries will not be willing to accept him,” the letter signed by the congressmen said.
Yeshiva students held a large protest outside his home in April during Holocaust Remembrance Day, the New York Daily News reported.
The Secretary of State’s office declined to comment.
Palij's lawyer during his federal trial also declined to comment.