IMMIGRATION JUDGE ORDERS DEPORTATION OF DETROIT-AREA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Justice and the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that an immigration judge in Detroit,
Michigan, has ordered the deportation of Johann Leprich, 77, a Clinton
Township, Michigan man who served as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration
camp during World War II. Leprich was arrested on immigration-related charges
this past July at his former home in Clinton Township, Michigan, after federal
agents found him hiding in a secret compartment beneath the basement
Christopher A. Wray, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice
Departments Criminal Division, stated, Federal agents relentlessly pursued
Leprich after he disappeared 16 years ago, and the courts decision validates
the enormous effort that was made by agents of the FBI, DHS and other agencies
to track him down.
Leprich, who was born in Romania, immigrated to the United States from Germany
in 1952 and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1958. In 1987, his U.S.
citizenship was revoked by the United States District Court in Detroit after a
federal judge found that Leprich had assisted in Nazi persecution while
serving as an armed SS Deaths Head guard at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp
in Nazi-annexed Austria from late 1943 until at least April 1944. The court
emphasized that inmates at Mauthausen were starved, beaten, tortured, and
killed by a variety of methods, including gassing,
hanging, strangling, electrocution, drowning, burning, starving, and shooting.
The federal court also found that Leprich lied about his wartime activities
when he applied for a U.S. immigration visa.
At a hearing in immigration court earlier this month, Leprich testified that
he left the United States in 1987 to avoid being deported, and that he lived
in Canada for sixteen years until he returned to the United States in April
2003. He admitted that he knew he was no longer permitted to live in the
United States, and that he was taking a chance when he returned to this
country. The government commenced deportation proceedings against Leprich
after he was arrested on July 1, 2003, following an investigation conducted by
the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Attorneys Office
in Detroit, and the Justice Departments Office of Special Investigations
Leprich claimed that the 1987 denaturalization decision was not final and that
he continues to be a U.S. citizen. In his decision, Assistant Chief
Immigration Judge Larry Dean rejected that claim, noting, It would be
difficult to imagine a more final order regarding the revocation of Mr.
Leprichs citizenship. The judge concluded that Leprich entered this country
illegally and ordered that he be removed to Romania, Germany, or Hungary.
The government proved sixteen years ago that Leprich and his fellow guards at
the infamous Mauthausen Concentration Camp took part in the persecution of the
many thousands of innocent civilians interned there, said OSI Director Eli M.
Rosenbaum. Our goal now is to remove Leprich from this country as quickly as
possible, and todays decision is an important step toward that goal.
The proceedings to remove Leprich are a result of OSIs ongoing efforts to
identify, investigate, and take legal action against former participants in
Nazi persecution who reside in the United States. Seventy-three individuals
who assisted in Nazi persecution have been stripped of U.S. citizenship, and
fifty-nine such persons have been removed from the United States since OSI
began operations in 1979. More than 160 individuals who sought to enter the
United States in recent years have been blocked from doing so as a result of
OSIs Watch List program.