The Palij Precedent on Deportations

August 21, 2018

Beginning yesterday, former Nazi prison-camp guard Jakiw Palij was arrested, detained, and deported from American soil. This morning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out a video of the deportation, praising ICE for their good work. Democrats have joined in, praising the Trump administration for the action. I, too, think Trump made the right call.

 

But before we get too busy congratulating ourselves for our intolerance toward former-Nazis, perhaps we should pause to consider the precedent this sets for other illegal immigrants in the United States. The deportation of Jakiw Palij teaches us two things about American immigration policy:

 

1) if you lied on your immigration papers to gain citizenship, that citizenship can be revoked,

 

2) if you're here illegally and Americans really, really don't want you here, you have no legal recourse against deportation.

 

The kinds of factors that Democrats typically cite in order to defer action on deportation could not help Jakiw Palij. Palij had over 65 years of residency in the United States without a criminal conviction, with more than 45 of those years as a legal citizen. None of that matters. Why? Because "deferred action" depends entirely upon the goodwill of the American People and the administration the people empowered. Since Americans have no goodwill toward former Nazis, no matter how young they were at the time or how ancillary their involvement in Nazi activity, there is no legal recourse for Jakiw Palij. 

 

Palij lied to get citizenship. We don't want his kind here. That's enough. He's gone.

 

Democrats are being careful to use the phrase "war criminal" when they support the Trump administration's move on this issue. They are hoping that Americans don't learn a lesson from this event, and instead think: "the guy's a Nazi; it's just different." But that's not how the law works. The ACLU used to defend Nazi marches for this very reason: what can be legally done to a Nazi can be legally done to anyone.

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