Judge Refuses to Deport Obama’s Uncle
At a deportation hearing on Tuesday, an immigration judge granted the president’s illegal alien uncle, Onyango “Omar” Obama, status as a legal permanent resident in the United States. Although Kenyan national Omar Obama had lied about his employment, defied multiple deportation orders, and was arrested for drunk driving, Judge Leonard Shapiro found that the president’s uncle had “good moral character,” a prerequisite to obtaining his green card.
This story brought to mind the case of John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-American autoworker whom the U.S. government accused of lying on his immigration request and twice stripped him of citizenship and deported, the first time to Israel, the second to Germany.
The Wikipedia article on Demjanjuk (worth reading in its entirety) documents at length his 35-year fight with the U.S. State Department, which in 1975, based on claims originating with Soviet newspapers, accused Demjanjuk of having been a camp guard at Sobibor. I had not realized, until reading this article, that many of the Nazi concentration camps were staffed primarily with Soviet and East European POWs who had been offered a devil’s bargain: serve as death camp guards, or be cast themselves into POW camps that for East-bloc soldiers were little better. (Somehow, this aspect of the concentration camps was never mentioned in the popular accounts from which I drew what I thought I knew about the holocaust.)
But Demjanjuk was accused of being not just any camp guard, but “Ivan the Terrible”, whose enthusiastic torment of Jewish captives beggars the imagination. The the trial that stripped Demjanjuk of his citizenship didn’t establish that he had committed any specific crimes, only that he had lied on his immigration request some thirty years earlier. Demjanjuk was deported to Israel to stand trial as Ivan the Terrible. (In this, he was lucky. Feodor Fedorenko was deported for the same reason to the Soviet Union, where he was summarily shot.)
Demjanjuk’s 1988 conviction in Israel was ultimately overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court based on new testimony and evidence suggesting the SS ID card bearing Demjanjuk’s likeness was a Soviet forgery. This passage from the Wikipedia article is worth quoting:
Demjanjuk was released to return to the United States. In 1993, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Demjanjuk was a victim of fraud on the court, as United States federal government trial lawyers with the Office of Special Investigations had recklessly failed to disclose evidence, and the extradition order previously granted was rescinded. In a report submitted to the Sixth Circuit prior to the Israeli acquittal, federal judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. concluded that American federal officials had erred in asserting that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible, but that evidence instead pointed to Demjanjuk being a lesser SS agent. After the Court of Appeals remanded the matter to Judge Wiseman, Judge Wiseman dismissed the denaturalization petition proceedings in 1998, effectively restoring Demjanjuk's citizenship.
Demjanjuk’s troubles were far from over, however.
On 19 May 1999, the Justice Department filed a new civil complaint against Demjanjuk. No mention was made in the new complaint of the previous allegations that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible. Instead, the complaint alleged that Demjanjuk served as a guard at the Sobibór and Majdanek camps in Poland under German occupation and at the Flossenburg camp in Germany.
Demjanjuk lost his citizenship a second time in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Germany agreed to accept his extradition for trial. (Israel, God bless her, had enough integrity not to want anything more to do with him.) This was an unprecedented development, marking the first time that anybody was tried for merely being a camp guard independent of any specific atrocities. (The exact charge of 27,900 counts of accessory to murder.)
This paragraph is also worth quoting:
On 12 April 2011, a 1985 FBI report that had been marked secret for the previous 25 years was declassified and found by reporters of the Associated Press News Media in the National Archives. It brought to light a judgement that the Trawnicki ID card that had been provided by a Soviet source to the U.S. was "quite likely fabricated" evidence.
Demjanjuk was convicted one month later anyway, given a suspended sentence, and died the next year while appealing his conviction.