A 95-year-old man believed to be the last Nazi war crimes suspect living in the U.S. was apprehended in New York City early Tuesday and deported to Germany, the White House said.

Jakiw Palij, a former concentration camp guard, was removed from the country a quarter century after immigration authorities first approached him about his activities in World War II and more than a decade after he was ordered deported. 

Palij had lived in Queens, N.Y., for years, even after admitting he lied to gain entry to the U.S. by claiming he spent the war working on a farm and in a factory. 



“Jakiw Palij lied about his Nazi past to immigrate to this country and then fraudulently become an American citizen. He had no right to citizenship or to even be in this country," Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAnd the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin The Memo: Mueller's depictions will fuel Trump angst Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump MORE said in a statement. 

The Justice Department said a federal judge stripped Palij of his citizenship in 2003 "based on his wartime activities and postwar immigration fraud" and he was ordered deported a year later to Poland, Germany or Ukraine. But he remained at his Queens home for years afterward because those countries refused to take him. 

The White House claimed credit for securing his deportation, saying in a statement that "past administrations were unsuccessful in removing Palij."

"To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE prioritized the removal of Palij," said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, adding that Trump and his team engaged in "extensive negotiations" with Germany on a deportation agreement. 

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, said Trump "made it very clear" in private conversations that deporting Palij was a priority and he credited German officials for taking a fresh look at the case.

Grenell told reporters he brought up the issue in all of his meetings with German leaders, adding, "they could tell we were making it a priority."

The Justice Department said Palij served at the Trawniki concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943, the same year that roughly 6,000 Jews were shot to death there in one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust. Palij has denied participating in any war crimes. 

Members of Congress and Jewish community groups have long called on the U.S. government to deport Palij. 

More than a dozen New York lawmakers wrote a letter to then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonJuan Williams: The high price of working for Trump Graham jokes to Pompeo: You're the 'longest-serving member of the cabinet, right?' Trump moves to install loyalists MORE last August, urging him to negotiate a deportation agreement for Palij so that their constituents were not forced to live beside “a painful reminder for Americans who fought against the Nazis or lost loved ones in the Holocaust.” 

Palij's removal comes at a time when the Trump administration is facing intense criticism for its hard-line approach toward illegal immigration. 

Immigrant-rights groups have drawn attention to emotional deportation cases as well as the thousands of children who were separated from their parents after they illegally crossed the U.S. southern border. 

Trump has not personally commented on the Palij case, but on Monday he hailed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as heroes for actions he said have kept the country safe. 

“We will not stand for the vile smears, the hateful attacks and the vicious assaults on the courageous men and women of ICE, Border Patrol and law enforcement,” Trump said during a White House event. “The extremists who attack ICE and CBC like to portray themselves as champions of social justice. They are not."

--Updated at 10:02 a.m.