ST. LOUIS -- An immigration court in St. Louis has ordered retired aircraft worker Michael Negele deported to Romania after finding the 81-year-old served as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. The order, announced Monday, comes more than a year after federal prosecutors with the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations began seeking his removal from the country, which followed a court battle over Negele's citizenship.
"Time has not diminished our resolve to hold accountable those who helped make the Holocaust a reality," said Eli M. Rosenbaum, director of the Office of Special Investigations. "This ruling is an important step in this continuing effort."
Warren Hoff, an attorney for Negele, said he had "not seen the decision, but I'm sure we'll appeal."
In revoking Negele's citizenship in 1999, a federal district judge found Negele served in the Nazi SS Death's Head Battalion as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin and later at the Theresienstadt Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.
Immigration Judge Bruce W. Solow cited those same findings in ordering Negele, who has lived in suburban St. Peters for decades, deported.
"Countless innocent men, women and children were brutalized and killed in Sachsenhausen and Theresienstadt as part of the Nazi regime's genocidal plan," said Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, chief of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
"Guards such as Negele made these crimes possible and are not entitled to the privilege of continued U.S. residence."
A native of Romania, Negele used a visa he obtained in Germany to enter the county in 1950, obtaining U.S. citizenship five years later.
Negele has said he never misled immigration authorities.